Excerpts from Remarks by Prime Minister Ehud Barak to the General Assembly of United Jewish Communities

Chicago, November 13, 2000

… Twenty-three years ago this month, Menahem Begin and Anwar Sadat took the then-almost unthinkable, pioneering step of making the first peace between Israel and an Arab country. Now, my friends, without any illusions that the process will be easy, it is our historic task to complete the circle of Israel’s acceptance in the region, so that we may flourish as a democratic, secure and free Jewish state…

The road to peace may be long; it will sometimes be very treacherous. But if we stand united, holding firm to our vital national interests, then we will prevail. We must understand the fundamental strategic fact: that only through a negotiated settlement can a durable peace be achieved that will enhance our security, guarantee our national interests, and end this tragic conflict once and for all. There is no other alternative. This is our vision: we will leave no stone unturned in our attempt to achieve peace and security with our Palestinian neighbors. But at the same time we will protect our vital interests, our internal unity, and our standing in the world – if a violent confrontation is imposed on us.

Our goals are clear: First – to secure a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians through negotiations – not one that is imposed through violence. The second goal is to protect, in such an agreement, Israel’s security and other vital interests, while creating a framework for cooperation and good neighborly relations with the Palestinians.

Any agreement that we reach must include the following elements:

  1. Permanent, recognized borders for the State of Israel.
  2. 80% of Israeli settlers within settlement blocs under Israeli sovereignty.
  3. Security arrangements that will provide adequate safeguards from Israel against external threats, mainly on our eastern fronts.
  4. No right of return for Palestinian refugees into Israel proper.
  5. A Jerusalem broader than it ever has been in our history, with a solid Jewish majority for generations to come; a capital united under our sovereignty and recognized by the entire world.

Our future dialogue with the Palestinians, when it happens, will have to take into account the lessons drawn from the wave of violence, initiated and perpetrated by the Palestinians in recent weeks.

We shake with anger over the cynical exploitation of Palestinian children in violent demonstrations, the widespread shooting at us by Palestinian policeman and paramilitary Tanzim, and the rabid incitement broadcast in the Palestinian media and preached from its mosques. In the current round of unrest, we have thus far taken a path of great restraint. Despite constant provocation, we have not exerted our full military might, no matter what your television news coverage might have implied. We’re trying to minimize bloodshed and to prevent a dangerous widening of confrontation. At Camp David we were ready to contemplate far-reaching ideas raised by President Clinton.

The Palestinians refused. Since then we have been at Paris, Sharm el-Sheikh and Gaza, but the Palestinians failed to live up to their commitments. No manipulation of the facts, no slick propaganda, can obscure this basic, simple truth. Less than two weeks ago, on the November 2nd anniversary of the Balfour declaration, as we were preparing to issue a joint declaration of cease fire with Chairman Arafat, Palestinian terrorists detonated a car bomb in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda that killed two young Israelis and injured ten others.

Terrorism does not choose its victims according to their political views. It strikes blindly… We meet here in Chicago with the hope that discussions held in Washington will put an end to violence.  

 Excerpts from Remarks by PM Barak to the General Assembly of United Jewish Communities-13-Nov-2000
 Excerpts from Remarks by PM Barak to the General Assembly of United Jewish Communities-13-Nov-2000
Outbreak of Violence in Jerusalem and the Territories – Sept/Oct 2000