PRESS CONFERENCE FOLLOWING MEETING BETWEEN ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER DAVID LEVY AND US SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER

LONDON, SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 1996

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: We have just had a good meeting with the Foreign Minister David Levy. We discussed the usual range of regional and bilateral issues. On the global front we talked about the conference of test ban treaty, and I thanked the Foreign Minister for his important role in Israel’s becoming a co-sponsor in the United Nations General Assembly of what is called the ‘Australian text’ – now up to more than [inaudible] co-sponsors which is a very good sign – and we hope that this can proceed. The Foreign Minister played a very important role in Israel’s decision to become a co-sponsor and I thank him for that.

We discussed two important meetings last week, the meeting between the Prime Minister and Chairman Arafat which followed the Foreign Minister’s meeting with Chairman Arafat and out of that, of course, came the establishment of the steering and monitoring committee which will enable the two sides to address a number of important issues together.

We discussed the very important issue of terrorism and talked about the joint counter-terrorism group that has been set up between the United States and Israel, and we are announcing now that the first meeting of that group will take place on 25th and 26th November and that will, I think, launch that group. That is a subject, of course, that our two countries work on, on a regular basis, but this will give more structure to that joint endeavor.

We had the usual fine exchange. In many ways this meeting is preparatory to the meeting that is taking place tomorrow in Washington between the President and the Prime Minister. I thank him again, the Foreign Minister, for agreeing to meet me here in London so we could continue our dialogue.

FM LEVY (translated from Hebrew): I would like to thank the Secretary for our conversation, for the very good atmosphere which characterized it, and for its substance. We discussed very important and very sensitive issues, including the peace process and various threats which exist. The Israeli commitment to proceed with the peace process has been given expression in the meetings between the Israeli side and the Palestinian Authority and the establishment of the joint committee to implement and follow up on the agreements.

In this process, of course, we are taking upon ourselves many risks and we must always remember what kind of incidents took place in our cities by those who had work permits to come and work in Israel. This, of course, has left great trauma and many scars for many of our citizens. But despite all this, we hope that Chairman Arafat will do everything in his power to combat terror and we are easing the closure in order to give the chance to many thousands of Palestinians to work in our cities.

If agreements between the sides are kept on a reciprocal basis, then I am convinced that there will be progress – and certainly from our point of view that is what we intend to do. The peace process and the achievement of peace is a great challenge for all who seek peace, and Israel certainly is one such actor. In this process, of course, the United States plays a most important role and will certainly continue to do so.

We are working together in very many areas, including standing together in the face of terror; terror does not know any borders nor does it know how to respect the hospitality of different countries. Anyone who does not stand up to it will become its victim. Therefore we have agreed between the two countries to establish this mechanism which will work toward removing this plague. And I certainly hope that other countries will do so as well and that there will be all-encompassing cooperation in order to combat this problem.

There is also the question of countries in the Middle East which are establishing great arsenals and who possess ideologies which completely oppose stability. Of course, we are situated in that very region and we are in continual contact and coordination with the United States, and we are cooperating.

There is a most important need for coordination in the work to prevent the development of weapon capabilities in our region, and we are working together to prevent the transfer of such technology which will endanger us all.

The peace process is broadening. We have, of course, peaceful relations and cooperative relations with Egypt; with Jordan we have very fruitful peace; we also have ties with many countries in the Gulf region and in North Africa, and we intend to continue to work so that everybody in the whole region will achieve peace.

We, of course, are forced to remain strong even though in our hearts, we desire peace more than any other country. Peace requires a very determined decision, and we have made such a decision, but it also demands of us very much caution and very clear vision.

I wish to thank my friend, the Secretary of State Warren Christopher, on his most intense efforts that he is investing in these very important subjects. We have decided and agreed to remain in constant contact to accompany these very important issues.

Thank you very much.

Q: What concrete steps do you want Israel to take?

SEC’Y CHRISTOPHER: The steering and monitoring committee that has been set up will be addressing a wide range of steps in addition to those I mentioned yesterday. I think the redeployment in Hebron is an important step to be taken and those discussions will be on-going. With respect to the Palestinians, as the Foreign Minister just said, the continuing commitment on the part of Chairman Arafat to fight terrorism is essential.

We discussed here today the decisions taken by the Palestinians with respect to their official operations in Jerusalem and the decisions they have taken there. There are obligations on both sides under the agreements that have been reached, and I think this monitoring and steering committee will be a good forum in which to ensure that there is communication in carrying out many joint obligations that the two parties have, which of course include the discussions on the final status issue. The commencement of those discussions is highly desirable.