Incoming Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Jerusalem, November 1, 2000
The peace process between Israel and the Palestinians has suffered a terrible blow, just as Israel and the Palestinians were on the very brink of realizing their dreams of peace and reconciliation. At the last kilometer of the marathon, as we were nearing the finishing line, Arafat turned around and ran back in the opposite direction. This retrogressive and illogical action goes against the tide of history, it is contrary to the wishes of the international community, and it is surely detrimental to the interests of his own people. Arafat started running in the opposite direction, and he has not stopped for a moment. In doing so, he has harmed the peace process, while undermining his own standing and personal reputation. Arafat has chosen to renounce his status as a statesman, preferring instead to revert to his old role as the leader of a campaign of incitement, violence and terrorism.
Arafat has a golden opportunity to lead his people to a new and promising future. Instead, he has taken a dangerous step backwards towards the abyss. As long as Arafat behaves in this reckless manner, we in the Foreign Ministry will work day and night to show the world that he is making a terrible mistake.
It is painful for the Foreign Ministry staff to see Arafat make this historic mistake. This is partly because the Ministry has always worked intensively to achieve peace. It is also because we, as professionals, are only too aware of the magnitude of this terrible mistake that Arafat has been making in recent days. We realize just how disastrous the consequences will be for us all.
Over the last seven years, the State of Israel has done everything it can to accomplish peace with the Palestinians. In the course of this difficult journey, the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, and the Israeli people courageously withstood a spate of horrific and cruel terrorist bus bombings that no state in the modern world has experienced.
When Arafat spoke in the past about jihad, we here in the Foreign Ministry said: "We will judge him by his deeds, not by his words." In other words, our approach will be determined by his actions.
Arafat’s actions over the last month have been intolerable. Now, we are not referring only to words but also to deeds. The State of Israel will not ignore this. The Foreign Ministry, for its part, will respond with a diplomatic and an information offensive around the world.
These are difficult times for every Israeli citizen, as well as for our diplomats who are at the front line of the information campaign – and they are at the front line not only of the information campaign, as you well know. We have been through times like this in the past, when the entire staff of the Ministry worked tirelessly, with determination, talent and dedication, and we will carry on in this manner.
As we strive to achieve peace, we know that we are in the right, and we know that we will eventually succeed in our struggle.
|Dr. Alon Liel – Curriculum Vitae|