|FM Peres addresses US Reform Jewish leaders|
(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres spoke on Tuesday, August 14, 2001, via conference call with US Reform Jewish leaders.
Foreign Minister Peres said that an historic Jewish decision is now necessary. He said that between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea there are 5.3 million Jews and 4.2 million Arabs. If the Green Line disappears and there is no new border, Israel will lose its Jewish majority. "The only way to assure our existence is a division of the area," Peres said. "This is not a concession of territory but the saving of Israel," he said, adding that Israel has never been an occupying state and does not want to be one now.
According to Foreign Minister Peres, the division must be by agreement since a unilateral division will give no security. Peres said that Israel, from a moral-Jewish point-of-view, cannot stand indifferent to the suffering, poverty and humiliation that are the lot of the Palestinian people. Dialogue can also resolve this problem which requires the agreement of both sides.
We agreed to hold secret talks in order to try and reach a cease-fire in all its components: a cease-fire, a halt to incitement, easing the closures, and a redeployment of the IDF. "The situation is very complicated and fraught with difficulties, but we must not lose hope," Peres said.
Foreign Minister Peres said that Israel must avoid pushing the Palestinian population into the arms of Islamic fundamentalists who take their orders from Iran and publicly call for Israel’s destruction. "The choice before us is not between black and white," he said, noting that Israel must not bring about the strengthening of Hamas, which wants our destruction, at the expense of the PLO, which is ready for certain compromise.
Foreign Minister Peres said that various countries at the Durban conference are trying to delegitimize the State of Israel and Jewish life. "The unity of the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora is the order of the day," Peres said."