ADDRESS BY ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER SHIMON PERES TO MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL

Lisbon, October 6, 1993

Before coming to the peace process, I would like to thank all of you full-heartedly for an ongoing long-lasting support for the peace in the Middle East. I believe the difference between the social-democratic International and other organizations is that our organization is not only busy with politics, but before politics our considerations are ethical and moral. So we were always a little bit ahead of time, but the time arrives to show that even politics are weaker than the moral code.

May I say that for me as a human being it’s an extremely moving morning. Two persecuted peoples, the blacks and the Jews, can celebrate a new future. Dr. Mandela can lead his people to freedom and equality, and we can lead our people to peace and friendship. Our friends from Africa, by gaining freedom, will also gain peace. We, by gaining peace, will also gain freedom. It is a victory for socialism, it is a victory for human commitment and hope. And thank you very much for the assistance you have given to us.

Coming to the peace process itself, may I say that the most difficult part in the negotiations is the existence of another side. Were we to negotiate with ourselves, we would probably have achieved peace already a long time ago, quite brilliantly. But when you have another side and you have to take into consideration its desires, its hopes, its needs, its wishes, that is what really complicates the negotiations. But before I shall speak about the other side, let me say a word about ourselves.

We were not just in conflict with the Palestinians and the Arabs, we were in conflict with ourselves. The Jewish people in their four thousand years of history have never dominated another people. And we felt strongly that we had to follow this moral commitment never, never to dominate another people. It’s a mistake. And we wanted to liberate ourselves from it. For two thousand years our people were in exile, so we were a message without a land. Once we got a land, we didn’t want to become a land without a message. To have a land and to have a message at the same time. To see the earth, but not to forget the history. To see the territory but always to look ahead to the future.

Another thing that is so important, is if you want to attain the noble goals of a party, keep your unity. Never let personal quarrels, or party quarrels inside your organization, overshadow the devotion of all of us to attain the most important goals. In our case, the most important goal was really peace. So we put all of our forces together, no matter who won, who lost. Together we decided not to lose the most important part, and that is really to achieve peace.

I want to say now about the other party, the Palestinian party. We started the peace process. We shall not stop until the agreement will become not just a political document but a successful reality politically, economically, and socially. It is in our interest to see our Palestinian neighbors building a new society, having a better economy. Because what we have learned since the Second World War is that if you provide independence but you don’t allow economic development, eventually it will become a failure.

Economic growth, political identity and social justice are inseparable, and I’m very glad that many of our European friends and many of our American friends are engaged today in the assistance of helping the Palestinians, as we shall do, to build their own self-government fully and successfully. Furthermore, to build a new Middle East.

May I say about the priorities before us. Priority number one is to implement the agreement we have reached with the Palestinians. It wasn’t easy for them, it wasn’t easy for us. Neither of us are completely free. We represent a democratic parliament, and we couldn’t have negotiated without promising that we shall have a majority. As you know, the majority in the parliament to approve this agreement wasn’t terribly high. We have the majority of just one person, 61 out of 120 members. But being a long time in politics, I have learned that it is better to have a small majority than a large minority. It is finally that which counts and makes the decisions. But we had to have a majority of 61, and if we had made a mistake we wouldn’t have gained that majority.

On the other hand we know that the Palestinian people too, the PLO, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, in our judgment was wrong for a long time by basing their struggle on violence and terror. We could have made an agreement with them the moment they turned from bullets to ballots, from guns to talks, from terror to dialogue. Since then we have nothing but our best wishes to the PLO, to its leaders, to their destiny. Our enemies are not Arabs, are not Palestinians. The only enemy we have is war, belligerency, violence, killing of innocent people.

It wasn’t a simple negotiation, because the map is a mixed map. There is a contradiction between the geographic layout and the demographic one. The land is small, the conflict is deep, and the mix of population makes it extremely hard to draw a map. So instead of a map, we have agreed to employ a calendar, a timetable namely to move from an impossible situation to a situation that will permit us to reach a full agreement and to have an acceptable map for the two parties. It is a voyage from one climate to another climate, where at the first shore the Palestinians will gain self-government and at the last shore all of us will reach independence and understanding and full neighborhood.

A poet once said: What is a pier? A pier is a frustrated bridge. It has just one end. There was a Palestinian pier, there was an Israeli pier, and we have had to build a bridge that will connect the two piers and create a hope for all people.

We are very serious, and we have said the first order of the day is to implement the agreement in a better way than it was written. We shall try to make it as successful and as spacious as we may. We have started already to negotiate with the Jordanians, and before it will be too late I can see an agreement between Jordan and ourselves. By the way, in order to solve the Palestinian issue, we have to have an agreement ‘en trois’ as the French are saying a triangle between the Jordanians, the Palestinians and ourselves. If we shall not have a triangle, one angle may threaten the other angle. We are going to copy a European example which is called Benelux. I hope the relations between the Jordanians, the Palestinians and us will be very much of the same nature which exists in Benelux.

But then, friends, we have to build a new Middle East. Willy Brandt, as Pierre Mauroy has mentioned his memory, was terribly concerned because of the difference between North and South the North being successful, prosperous, rich, white, self-assured; the South being under-developed, poor, many, hopeless and it created a psychological, economic and political discrimination.

Thank heavens that this division is disappearing with the new emergence of a very powerful economy in Asia, and maybe the 21st century will be the century of the Asians. With the seven tigers, with China, with India, with the emergence of political and economic awakening in South America, the disparity between South and North is reaching its end. You can be a non-white person, you can live in the South, you can start from a very low point and become a successful economy and a great society if you will bring an end to the skirmishes, to the differences, to the wars, to the armies, and if you will really invest in education and apply modern science and technology for the development of the country. I think this too is a victory for socialism.

We want to build a Middle East on four basic assumptions, copying very much again the example of Europe. Number one, to get rid of the negative expenses. What are the negative expenses? An over-sized army which is very costly, and a very expensive arms race that we don’t need. And do you know what again is a very expensive matter I hope only rich countries will do it and that is to have a dictatorship. Dictatorships are very expensive on the account of the people. They maintain a secret service that nobody needs, they maintain a censorship that kills initiative, they create an air of suspicion that kills the chance for a person to express himself, they create fears and worries and threats, all totally unnecessary.

I hope that all countries at the end of this 20th century will get rid of the most dangerous shadows that hang in the skies of the 20th century. One was war and the other was dictatorship. I hope that the whole of the Middle East will become democratic. We shall not wait for it, because I’m afraid that even non-democratic countries can become nuclear, and we have to meet the two dangers at the earliest place, at the closest time.

Then, on the positive side, we are going to fight the desertification of the land. Today the problem is not the size of the land, but its fertility. Ninety per cent of the land of the Middle East in the hands of the Arabs and others is already desert, and we must mobilize in a right way the available waters and the available science, and provide our children with an opportunity to have bread and butter in the Middle East I would say have milk and honey but it’s the same thing. We can do it today in modern times all over the world, so we are going to devote our time to do so.

Another point on the positive side will be to develop tourism that can provide a great many jobs to unemployed people, connect different countries. Nature and history are on our side. The Middle East has blue skies, warm air, and our forefathers were tourist-oriented! They built pyramids, holy places. We simply have to make good use of it, and we shall do it. Tourism is a political industry, because it calls for tranquility and introduces tranquility.

The next point will be to build an infrastructure in transport and communication, so the geographic proximity will become an economic advantage.

I would like to say a word to our European friends, and I want to thank Gro for her role. Whoever wants to have peace, and a good time, I recommend highly to go to Norway. They have all the available facilities and a kind nature. I want also to refer to Willy, who is doing a wonderful job as President of the twelve ministers of Europe.

The problem with Europe and the problem with America is that they have become so productive, that the only product they can really produce is unemployment. The more they become productive, the more unemployment they have. And I am saying to our European friends: Why don’t you export your unemployment and invest it in new markets? But this is not the 19th century where you can conquer a market by gunboats, not even the 20th century. The new markets are not geographic, but social. Use your productivity to enable people in East Europe, in Africa, in the Middle East, in Asia, in Latin America, make them better consumers, make them customers of your own, invest your extra money, your extra productivity to raise the standard of living of all people. The higher the standard of living will be, the lower the danger of violence will become.

Here again I would like to thank the Socialist International. For us it was not necessarily the place where we have had our weddings, but the place where we started our love. And in politics, maybe you need as much love as we are having weddings. I hope that this organization will remain an organization full of love for all people, black and white, men and women, young and old, and will raise the flags of great human hope and optimism.