Jerusalem, 9 July 2001

Cabinet Secretary Gideon Saar’s remarks following today’s Cabinet meeting
(Communicated by the GPO)

Following are excerpts from Cabinet Secretary Gideon Saar’s briefing after the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Monday), July 9, 2001:

The Cabinet held a wide-ranging political discussion, that will continue at a future date, vis-a-vis both diplomatic and security matters.

The Prime Minister enumerated the common goals of the government of Israel’s policy:

1. The cessation of violence.
2. Violence cannot be rewarded.
3. Opposition to the internationalization of the conflict.
4. Efforts to prevent regional deterioration.
5. Examining the possibility of the return to political negotiations (on the bilateral sphere) following the cessation of violence and terrorism.

The Prime Minister also commented on his trip to Europe. Our perspective – which received support in his talks – is that Israel and Europe have common interests, such as the goal of peace and stability in the Middle East, and shared values which are common to advanced democratic countries. This partnership – both in values and interests – was raised during the meetings. Since we are interested in peace and stability in the Middle East, we naturally discuss with our friends the best ways to reach this goal.

During his meetings, the Prime Minister explained that the process must be based on three basic principles:

1. The honoring of agreements.
2. The cessation of violence and incitement.
3. Mutual respect among peoples.

Israel’s commitment to peace was stressed at all meetings, as was its support for implementing the Mitchell report, and our position that it is in the interests of all parties to return to the political process. However, in our view the condition for peace must be the Palestinian abandonment of the strategy of terrorism. A peace process and violence and terrorism are incompatible.

In the meetings that were held in both France and Germany, there was a common outlook on a range of issues:

1. Concern over terrorism and its dangers both to regional stability and its implications for the international arena; terrorism is seen as an abominable, unacceptable phenomenon that harms innocent people.
2. Concern over radical elements in the region and their influence.
3. The commitment of both Germany and France to Israel’s security.

The principle of self-defense was explained at all meetings, as well as the implications of the failure to realize this principle. We see our dialogue with the nations of Europe and the world as a long-term, continuing process in which we endeavor both explain our positions and to listen. Personal ties between leaders are important. It was agreed to continue such ties and efforts to explain our positions in depth, directly and honestly, on the basis of those shared interests and values. It appears to us that there is greater understanding for Israel’s positions in the countries we visited. There were no pressures, demands or requests in the meetings from either side. There was dialogue, which was usually in depth and substantive regarding the regional situation.

Addressing the issue of cease-fire violations:

In the past 24 hours there were 12 attacks and six disturbances. A bus was shot at (in which a woman was wounded), a bomb near Adorayim in which an officer was killed and his driver wounded and a car-bomb at Gush Katif junction. Regarding this last incident, advance information had been passed on to the Palestinian Authority which did nothing about it. It was carried out by Hamas. Mortar rounds were fired at the Gush Katif community of Morag.

Yesterday, the Palestinian media broadcasts contained agitation and incitement. These propoganda broadcasts incorporated nationalist songs accompanied by pictures of confrontations, the funeral of Iman Hajou, pictures of wounded children, of soldiers aiming their weapons at Palestinian residents. The governor of the Rafiah district said that Israeli soldiers amuse themselves on occasion by hunting Palestinian children.

Our position is that the week-long testing period – as agreed upon by the Prime Minister and the US Secretary of State – cannot begin, neither is it possible to advance toward implementing the Mitchell sequence, in the existing situation. We want to do so, and have an interest in doing so. We have defined the transition from the situation of the last nine months to a different situation, one of dialogue, first of all security dialogue, and then – if there is quiet – a political dialogue. But we cannot undertake such a process if it is accompanied by violence.

"Naturally, the issue of the videocassette in the possession of the UN came up. The Israeli government’s position is that the tape must be handed over to Israel as is, with no blurring and no editing."