Jerusalem, 28 October 2001

PM Sharon and DM Ben-Eliezer: Palestinians have not honored their part of agreement to facilitate IDF pullback from Beit Jala and Bethlehem
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

The Cabinet, at its weekly meeting today (Sunday), 28.10.2001:

1. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres briefed the Cabinet on his recent visit to the US.

Foreign Minister Peres described the unity prevailing among the US administration, the Congress and the American public in light of the US’s struggle against terror.

"The US knows who the terrorists are and who their allies are," Foreign Minister Peres said.

Foreign Minister Peres noted the understandings which have been forged between the US and China and Russia – which, today, are on the same side in the struggle against terror – and said that, today, there is a new division in the world, neither east vs. west nor north vs. south, but those who oppose terrorism vs. those who support it.

At the end of his briefing, Foreign Minister Peres said that the entire world is facing a new era, vis-a-vis both the struggle against terror and the economic difficulties that affect us all. Therefore, he added, we must act responsibly.

2. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer briefed the Cabinet on recent security events, including the IDF actions in ‘A’ areas. The Defense Minister asserted that the Palestinians have not honored the agreement that was made with them to prevent shooting from the Beit Jala and Bethlehem areas, which will delay the departure of IDF forces from these areas. The Defense Minister made it clear that if quiet is maintained in these towns, IDF forces will begin their evacuation this evening.

3. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that the US is indeed involved in a difficult and lengthy campaign that could last for years. Prime Minister Sharon reported on his conversations with Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik of Norway and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer of Germany, and said that he clarified to them that while Israel has no intention or interest of making life difficult for the Palestinians, Israel is committed to protecting its citizens and maintaining their security.

Prime Minister Sharon noted the agreement reached at last Thursday’s "kitchen Cabinet" meeting, but added that the Palestinians have not honored their part of the agreement, and that it was, therefore, decided to delay the IDF’s withdrawal.

Prime Minister Sharon emphasized that it is our duty to determinedly insist on the fulfillment of agreements, and said that this is a fundamental principle in any relationship between us and the Palestinians, whether current or in the future.

Prime Minister Sharon noted that the agreements reached yesterday with the Palestinians established three principles:

1. There will be a body responsible for the areas that are evacuated.
2. There will be a complete cease-fire.
3. The PA will carry out arrests.

"The Palestinian Authority did not abide by the agreements and therefore the IDF withdrawal from Bethlehem and Beit Jala has been delayed," said the Prime Minister. Prime Minister Sharon repeated and emphasized that Israel has no intention of remaining in "A" areas – but declared that if an agreement has been reached, then it must be adhered to.

Prime Minister Sharon reiterated that the government is committed to the security of the citizens of Israel.

4. Prime Minister Sharon briefed the Cabinet on a conversation he had with Ukrainian Prime Minister Anatolii Kinakh in which the latter expressed his regrets and condolences over the plane crash over the Black Sea that took place on 4.10.2001. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma announced that he appointed a deputy prime minister to handle all issues relating to the tragic event and its consequences. The two agreed that the two countries will cooperation at a ministerial level on all issues of claims for compensation. Justice Minister Meit Sheetrit has been appointed to coordinate the handling of claims by the families of victims of the disaster.