JUNE 28, 1993
– The Peace Process:
I believe two developments created new realities for Israel. The first one, the capability of the United States to bring about the Madrid Peace Conference. It was not arranged by us and the Arabs. There was no direct communication between Israel and those with whom we are today negotiating as a result of the Madrid Conference. Everything was prepared by the United States. It is a U.S. product that brought the Arabs and the Israelis to agree to have these peace negotiations.
Second, we sense more and more that the world is open to Israel, and I believe that one of the significant changes in the attitude of the present government is that we don’t turn to anybody in the name of fear. We didn’t bring the Galut (Exile) to Israel, to believe that Israel is another ghetto, a Jewish ghetto in the Middle East. We are a strong country. The whole world is not against us. We don’t have to ask assistance in the name of fear. We ask for cooperation in a successful, historic endeavor of the Jewish people that has been achieved as a result of the Zionist movement, the decision of the Jewish community in Israel before we reached independence. I consider Israel to be the greatest success of the Jewish people in the last 2,000 years. We ask cooperation with the success to make it a greater success.
– Negotiations with Syria:
We have changed the policies of Israel vis-a-vis the policies of the former government. For example, what we are trying, in achieving peace with Syria, is not to repeat the painful price that Isreal paid for the peace with Egypt, not to repeat again that for peace with an Arab country, you have to return till the last square inch of territories that we occupied in the Six Day War, not to uproot all the settlements. There will be no repetition of the painful price that we paid for the achievement of peace with Egypt.
At the same time, if one believes, after paying for peace with Egypt what we paid, that it is possible to achieve peace by not giving anything, it is beyond my understanding. Therefore, we have made it clear: We are ready for a withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces on the Golan Heights to secure and recognized boundaries. We will not negotiate the dimension of the withdrawal before Syria will explain what is the meaning of full peace that they utter. Does it include open boundaries for movement of people and goods? Does it include diplomatic relations, including embassies? Does it include policies by the two governments that will encourage normalization between peoples on the two sides? And will the peace treaty, once signed, stand on its own two feet, and not be influenced by what will or will not be achieved with the Arab partners? Until they answer these questions in a way that we understand, we will not negotiate the dimension of the withdrawal.
So far, they have refrained. If they believe that we are standing with a stop-watch, they can forget it. We are ready to make compromises for peace, but we have all the time to ensure that peace will be peace, and peace that will give security to Israel.
– Negotiations with the Palestinians:
Vis-a-vis thue Palestinians, we stick to the letter of invitation to the Madrid Conference that the solution of the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel should be done in two phases. Phase number one: interim self-government arrangements to the Palestinians. Once it was called autonomy. This is what the Arabs and the former government of Israel agreed to. Whatever is in an international paper, we feel a commitment to keep.
Our concept for the interim agreement is as follows: Let the Palestinians run their affairs in every aspect of their life. Most of the responsibilities of the civil administration in reference to the Palestinians’ life in the territories will be handed to them. Just to mention, in the Gaza Strip there are 750,000 Palestinians and less than 5,000 Israelis. In Judea, Samaria and the West Bank, there are 900,000 Palestinians and 120,000 Israelis. I’m not including the 150,000 Palestinians who reside in united Jerusalem.
Our position is clear: Jerusalem will remain as it is, united under Israel’s sovereignty and our capital forever. And therefore, it will not be included in the interim self-government arrangements for the Palestinians. It is part of Israel. It is so. It will remain so.
– The Permanent Status of the Territories:
In accordance with the letter of invitation to Madrid, not later than the beginning of the third year after the establishment of the interim agreement, [we will address the] permanent solution. But I’ll state here: Our policy is not the whole Land of Israel. I believe in the right of the Jewish people all over the Land of Israel, but I don’t want to annex about two million Palestinians to become Israelis, since I don’t believe in ‘transfer’ and I don’t believe in apartheid. Whoever proposes to annex the territories will annex about two million people.
I am a Jew and a proud Jew, and I believe that Judaim and racism is in contradiction by their very essence. You can’t annex two million people and tell them: ‘You’ll be second class citizens. You’ll have no political or civil rights.’ Annexation will make Israel not a Jewish state. It might remain by name. But for me a Jewish state means that at least 80 percent of its citizens must be Jewish. I don’t want a situation of four, five million Jews and two and a half or three million Palestinians, because we are different. We are different entities by religion, by policies. We are different nations. Different by nationality. I see what happens all over the world nowadays when there are large minorities that don’t want to identify with the destiny of the state in which they are a major minority.
An Israel that will lose its overall Jewish destiny and will not be able to perform it, will lose one of the historic purposes that the Jewish people have dreamt of for 2,000 years and succeeded in the last one hundred years to achieve: a Jewish state. However, a Jewish state where there will be no Law of Return, a Jewish state that will not see itself as a center of the Jewish life of all Jewish communities, will not be the Jewish state that the Zionist movement dreamt, fought and achieved.
By no means do I accept the principle of return to the pre-Six Day War lines. I made an oath a long time ago, that I will be the last Chief of Staff of the armed forces of Israel that will have to defend Israel from the lines that existed prior to the Six Day War. This will not happen.
I’m not saying that negotiations are simple, but at least this government is seen by many countries, from China to the United States, as a country that, for peace, is ready to make compromises, but expects compromises from the other side. This is our policy. I expected a shorter time for the negotiations, especially with the Palestinians. It will take longer. We have the patience. We are able to wait, because we are strong.
– Security and the Territories:
There are problems today. A katyusha fell, two or three fell in the northern part of the country, but I believe that we are today exactly three months since I decided about the closure of the territories. Closure means no freedom of movement to the Palestinians from the territories to Israel. I believe that so far it has achieved its main purpose, has given a sense of personal security to 97 percent of the Israeli Jewish citizens that live on the sovereign soil of Israel, and that includes united Jerusalem. It was done for security purposes. We increased our forces in the territories and there is also a reduction of terror and violence in the territories. But nothing is hermetic.
– Economy in the Territories:
We are responsible not only to our economy but also, as a military government, to the Palestinians in the territories. We have taken measures to reduce the economic burden of the Palestinians in the territories.
The whole world pays lip service to the Palestinians. I believe that if the world, especially the rich Arab countries, would invest 200 million dollars a year for the Palestinians in the territories, it would encourage the peace process. Because so far, it is only words, diplomacy, not real proof to the Palestinians that, while they are negotiating peace, their economic and social problems are starting to be solved.
The European Community promised 80 million dolars, over one and a half years. We are now in the process of the implementation of the first phase 30 million dollars for housing. We spent this year 100 million dollars that we collect from taxes, from the Palestinians that work in Israel, for infrastructure, social activities, building centers of industry for them to take their initiative, to improve their economy. We don’t want them to be dependent on us. We don’t want to be dependent on them.
– Achieving Peace:
I believe that the Arab countries and Israel have passed the point of no return on the road to peace. How long will it take? I don’t know. I prefer that it will take sooner rather than later. But we will not, because of the effort to shorten the time of negotiations, give up on any issue that we believe is vital to the real peace or to the security of Israel.
We also decided to change the order of national priorities domestically. I didn’t support investing in what I call the political settlements. I distinguish between those who are along the lines of confrontation and those who are in the center of the populated Palestinian areas. It derives from what I said before, my ideas about the future, the permament solution. I don’t believe that they contribute to the security of Israel. Therefore, we stopped pouring government money into them, giving them all the incentives. In Barkan, 15 minutes form Petah Tikva, the same incentive was received as in Kiryat Shmona or in the Negev, in Ofakim, in Netivot. We changed priorities: for us, [they are] Jerusalem, the Galilee, the Negev, the confrontation lines. Therefore, we stopped the 100 percent budgeted or 100 percent guaranteed construction.
– Israel’s Foreign and Economic Relations:
The world is open. I’m not saying that everybody agrees with us, but there is a readiness for having relations. In the last year, I spent so much time receiving prime ministers, presidents. It’s an influx of high officials of governments from all over the world, except the Arab countries.
I believe there is a readiness for cooperation, economic cooperation too. I believe that we have tremendous opportunities in the Far East. Even Japan has started a little bit investments in Israel. I believe there are a lot of potentialities in the relations with the Far East.
The real problem of our economy is the big deficit in the balance of trade with Europe. We buy for ten billion dollars. We sell for four and a half. Every increase in our export of one billion dollars is another 20,000 jobs that produce and sustain in the proper way 20,000 families. This is our problem. To update our agreements with Europe, to give more room for private enterprises in Israel.
– The Arab Boycott:
We have to fight the Arab boycott. I believe the United States is in the lead. President Clinton, in my talks with him, promised that he will raise the issue in the meeting of the G7. I asked the communities in the countries that are members of the G7 to appeal to their governments. And I am talking only about third parties not to open their markets to direct export from Israel, but not to put a boycott on companies that are engaged in businesses in the Arab countries as well as in Israel. I’m glad that in Germany there is legislation. In France, there is legislation. In Britain, Italy, other European countries, there is no such legislation. In the United States, yes.
I want to create public feeling, and I believe the time is right. Kuwait almost cancelled the Arab boycott. With more international pressure under the present international siotuation, it can be achieved, and no doubt it will be a tremendous contribution to Israel’s economy.
– U.S. Aid to Israel:
We have no complaints in terms of the economic assistance from the United States. I believe in my talks with Bush, later on with President Clinton, the ten billion dollar [loan guarantees] were given. The President approved a budget for ’95 with full financial support to Israel. There were people who warned me in the United States that foreign aid is not popular, that ‘you wouldn’t be able to pass it’. We stood firm because we believe that this assistance is justified to Israel, and it passed against all the skepticism of so many people.
If, on the one hand, Israel will show its readiness to solve the conflict and, on the other hand, prove that we are changing priorities, changing habits, changing systems in Israel, I believe that we will manage. From last year to this year’s national budget, we cut the deficit by half from 6.2 percent of the GNP deficit to 3.2 percent this year. I don’t believe that any country dared in one year to cut by half its deficit in its national budget.