Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres at the Inauguration of the Winter Session of the Knesset

October 11, 1993

Terrorism Against Peace:

I wish to express my condolences, and that of the entire Government, in the bereavement of the Behar and Forer families, who lost their loved ones in the reprehensible terror attack which took place in Wadi Kelt. Dror Forer, 25 years old, and Eran Behar, aged 23, had gone on an innocent hike in one of the loveliest places in Israel, and fell in the struggle for peace. They are victims of seething hatred and senseless malevolence.

The Islamic Jihad has already assumed responsibility for the crime. Thus we know not only who committed the act but what the perpetrators had in mind. These bloodthirsty people are the enemies of peace. It was not only the inoffensive hikers whom they sought to murder, but also the hope for peace. They wished to blot out the hopes of Israelis and of many Palestinians. They vented their malice not only on Dror and Eran but also on the Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

So did the terrorists who tried to reach northern Israel by sea and carry out a mass attack along the coast. The Navy’s success in frustrating this scheme should not lull us into a lower state of alert. On the contrary. The success should serve us as an alarm and a warning. The enemies of peace are conspiring to defeat the peace because their entire raison d’etre depends on continuing the state of enmity; with the advent of peace, they won’t have a leg to stand on. This is why they attempt to assault us, and as we have seen, the PLO leadership as well.

Mr. Speaker:

The murders in Wadi Kelt and the attempted seaborne incursion in the north will not be the last undertakings of these kinds. There will almost certainly be additional attempts to torpedo the peace by means of terror, murder, and sabotage. This is why Israel asserts its full right, and its comprehensive duty, to prevent the creation of a security vacuum during the transition period. Israel and its security forces will defend its citizens and the Palestinian population that lives under Israeli control.

Fighting Terrorism – A Common Interest:

As for the terrorists and the enemies of peace, Israel will pursue them to the bitter end; it will give them no rest. In the near future, the enemies of peace will continue trying to shed blood, cause suffering, and terrorize innocents. Anyone who believes he can frustrate historical processes with butchers’ knives or bullets fired from an ambush is deluding himself. The world is parting ways with the hunters of human prey. The offensive against the peace, in which both Israelis and Arabs are interested, has created a coalition of interests that could hardly have been imagined heretofore. It is now necessary for both Israelis and Palestinians to combat terror. Now we are not the only party interested in overcoming terror.

Our neighbors, too, ought to have such an interest. After all, the knife is aimed at them, too. This convergence of interests should lead to cooperation in order to attain these interests. Israel is prepared to cooperate with anyone in the region who is willing to blunt the teeth of terror. Together we may be able to assure mothers, both Israeli and Palestinian, that their children who travel the country’s roads will return home safely, without fear of finding assailants and terrorists in their path.

We have not yet reached our destination. We and our neighbors may face more terror. However, we are approaching the stage at which it will become clear that terror has no future and is fated to die. If we do not carry out the murderers’ bidding, if we do not let peace slip through our grasp, if we do not stop implementing the agreements already signed, if we continue striving for additional agreements, terror will recede in a tide of hopelessness. The security forces will continue to frustrate and prevent terror, apprehend terrorists, and bring them to trial.

Implementing the Israel-PLO Accord:

However, we are well aware that military measures alone are not enough. Implementation of the Israeli-Palestinian agreement, fulfillment of the autonomy plan, basic improvement of the socioeconomic situation in the territories these, too, will help reduce the level of violence. After all, terror is the weapon of the despairing, those who have nothing to lose today and nothing to hope for in the future. A population that has something to lose, a society that has a solid economic infrastructure, is one that hopes for a better future and is disinclined to let itchy trigger fingers endanger its children’s just expectations.

Members of the Knesset:

Therefore, our objectives are to ensure the security of residents in all localities, to implement faithfully the agreement with the PLO, to continue vigorously pursuing the peace process with all of our neighbors, and to build a new Middle East that will relate to and even respond to the new challenges of our time.

Implementation of the agreement with the PLO, as ratified by the Knesset, will reduce the area of friction between ourselves and them, make the Palestinians responsible for maintaining law and order, and strengthen our shared interest in maintaining peace and overcoming terror. Neither people should select the other people’s leaders, and neither people should arrest the other people’s criminals.

The Government is firmly committed to continuing the peace policy, which has bolstered national and personal security. This Government promised the nation and the Knesset that it would improve the security situation. It is keeping its promise, notwithstanding the painful sacrifices. The truth is that personal security in Israeli cities and roads is better today than in the past. This change is the result of a combination of security measures and political initiatives. We cannot dispense with either of these components of our national strategy not to eschew security measures where and when they are warranted, and not to refrain from taking the political steps that are intrinsically warranted.

Members of the Knesset,

We shall not do the enemy’s bidding. We shall not halt the peace process just because the enemies of peace want us to halt it. On the contrary. We shall adhere even more strongly to our peace and security policy.

Mr. Speaker:

The Government of Israel expects to parlay the agreement with the Palestinians into a great success. After a century of enmity, first indications of our shared interests are beginning to appear not only in the war on extremism and terror but also in economic and social affairs. I need only mention our shared natural resources and human potential. Something that used to be cause of nuisance and divisiveness can become a helpful and unifying factor in the near future.

We have learned in the second half of the twentieth century that national identity is not enough. To keep self-rule from becoming a stinging failure, as happened in several African countries, one needs to create a solid economic infrastructure. A satisfied neighbor is also a better neighbor.

The Negotiating Process:

Since the Knesset made its decision, the discussions have gone into high gear. In the meeting in Cairo between the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the PLO, it was agreed to set up a coordinating committee that will meet in Taba for two months, and a liaison committee that will meet in Cairo from time to time to deal with problems of principle that arise in the ongoing negotiations. The Israel delegation to the coordinating committee will be headed by the Deputy Chief of General Staff, Major General Amnon Shahak. The Israel delegation to the liaison committee will be headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. We will be traveling to Cairo two days from now to attend the inaugural meeting of the liaison committee.

We regard the agreement with the Palestinians as an agreement of historical, not commercial, nature, and an agreement not between leaders but between peoples.

The fourth round of multilateral negotiations will begin in Tunis tomorrow with an meeting of the working group on refugees. Not just one side has refugees and refugee claims. Both sides have them, and all the claims will have to be discussed seriously, with an inclusive attitude. The Israel delegation will be headed by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yossi Beilin.

The overt arrival of the Israeli delegation in Tunis is itself another indicator of the normalization of relations. Israel expects to intensify the normalization of relations with the North African countries. There is no further reason for conflict between us, and we beckon to these countries for peace and for fruitful, profound, and genuine cooperation.

In Washington, the negotiations with the Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian, and Palestinian delegations will continue. The talks with the Palestinians will concern themselves with the remaining problems connected with autonomy, including elections to the council and the size of the council.

In this context, I hereby inform the Knesset that the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation has been separated into two separate delegations. They requested this, and we reached the conclusion that the integral nature of the two delegations would no longer serve the cause of progress in the talks. The separation will apply to the multilateral talks as well.

Negotiations with Jordan:

Members of the Knesset:

We are interested in reaching a full, explicit, and historic agreement with our neighbor to the east, the Hashemite Kingdom. The tripartite discussion between the President of the United States, the Crown Prince of Jordan, and the Foreign Minister of Israel held without subterfuge took place in this spirit. I mentioned to the Crown Prince that, historically, we are the offspring of one forefather, Abraham, and geographically, our countries abut one body of water, the Red Sea; one desert, the Arava; one natural resource, the Dead Sea; and one river, the Jordan. These can be bones of contention, but they can also be as we wish them to be sources of tremendous wealth for Jordanians, Palestinians, and Israelis alike.

Economically viable transport routes, prevention of waste in building of infra- structure, such as duplicate ports and airports; safeguarding the principles of tourism; prevention of water pollution; full utilization of the mineral potential of the Dead Sea; full enjoyment of the uncommon beauty of the Red Sea, including transformation of the Arava landscape and development of modern intensive agriculture these may extricate many people from the kind of poverty that fuels protests and violence. We are interested in an economically successful Jordan, and, as we have shown more than once, we take the independence of the Hashemite Kingdom seriously.

We have proposed the establishment of an economic triangle, a fruitful triangle, that would be a springboard for far-reaching cooperation. Such cooperation would supplement, not replace, the political arrangements. To bring this about, we agreed to set up a six-member tripartite committee two representing the United States, two representing Israel, and two representing Jordan. I was pleased to discover that the Crown Prince of Jordan, who, by the way, speaks Hebrew, has been thinking in similar terms.

Negotiations with Syria and Lebanon:

In Washington, we are willing to continue negotiating with Syria and Lebanon, just as we will continue talking with Jordan and the Palestinians. We wish to reach an agreement with Syria. Only a comprehensive agreement embracing all Middle East countries will be a complete one. Any negotiations with one of the four parties should take place within its own logic; it should stand on its own legs. The goal, however, is to avoid leaving any wound on the body of the Middle East untreated.

We are telling the Syrians in no uncertain terms that we are willing to conduct fair negotiations with them, negotiations between equals, negotiations that will permit the conclusion of an equitable compromise, negotiations that will bridge understandable fears, theirs and ours alike. Above all, we wish to meet Israel’s security needs without disregarding those of Syria. We seek a peace that transcends lip service, a peace that is not for show, a peace that will herald a new and promising reality for both peoples equally. We propose to sweep away the obsolete constraints of negotiations on a narrow, declarative, limited channel, and to open a broad dialogue that is worthy of the norms of our time.

Members of the Knesset: We have no interest in Lebanese soil, Lebanese water, or Lebanese politics. On the country, we are interested in an independent Lebanon that menaces neither its own internal integrity nor its neighbors’ security. If Lebanon presents a cohesive and coherent policy, a policy of its own, it will be able to return to itself and resume genuine negotiations with us.

Israel’s Foreign Relations:

Members of the Knesset:

After the Knesset ratified the agreement with the PLO, I traveled, on behalf of the Government, to the U.N. General Assembly and met with the President of the United States, the Vice-President, and the Secretary of State; the Crown Prince of Jordan; the President of Portugal; the Chancellor of Germany; the Secretary-General of the U.N.; and with the foreign ministers of 36 countries.

I found unprecedented sympathy for Israel. I found willingness of an intensity that we had never known before to help further Israel’s economic development and secure its international status, but, above all, to reinforce the peace process, which has evoked this is not an overstatement general admiration worldwide. There was hardly a word of unvarnished criticism.

For example, the European Community decided to expedite its negotiations with Israel in order to create for us our own special position in the European economic space. Most of our requests to improve relations with the Common Market were met and the Common Market countries even took the initiative of offering to upgrade our status in the Market to that of associate member.

During my visit at the General Assembly, relations were renewed or established with five countries: Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mauritius, Cambodia, and Turkmenistan. Ghana, too, declared its wish to resume diplomatic relations with Israel.

In the U.N. itself, favorable trends toward Israel, such as we have never witnessed before, are prominent today. For example, a resolution welcoming the Israeli- Palestinian agreement is being put together, and many countries are taking action to strike erroneous, anachronistic resolutions from the Assembly agenda.

A conference meant to assist the Middle East peace process was held in Washington, and the participants pledged $2 billion to help implement our agreement with the Palestinians. The conference was chaired by the U.S. Secretaries of State and the Treasury, and Israel was represented by its own Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Finance. We played an important role in organizing the conference and marshalling the financial support. For those who say ‘charity begins at home,’ I should add that if you’re talking about ‘home,’ the people in Gaza who need charity are impoverished residents of a city that is under Israeli rule. Thus far, Israel had to cope with this poverty by itself; now the world has enlisted to help.

Middle East Regional Development:

Poverty has always been a source of trouble, trouble that begets hatred and violence. We would like to eradicate poverty throughout the Middle East, because a prosperous Middle East will also be a Middle East whose security remains in equilibrium. A prosperous Middle East will also enable us to take in immigrants. This is the place to refer to regional development and our role in it.

When speaking of development of the Middle East, we have to answer two questions: what is Israel’s role in regional development, and what is the best way to develop it?

With respect to Israel, we have no interest in dominating the Middle East economy. We have not forfeited control of territories only to take control of economies. The era of political and economic coups by means of gunboats or political coercion is dead and gone. Today’s world is one that competes with products and services; its players do not try to enrage each other by exploiting them and twisting their arms. Neither does Israel wish to posture as a condescending country that preaches to others. Our message consists solely of the actions that should be taken to ensure the well-being of all peoples in the region and in this region, the well- being of peoples should take precedence over the routine affairs of rulers.

The only action needed is to solve each nation’s big problems with a regional solution when a regional solution is the only one or the best one. Water, anti- desertification, tourism, the arms race the only way to deal with these is by regional agreements. Not by coercion, not by war, not by domination, but only through genuine cooperation, by lowering economic barriers, as Europe and the United States are doing.

Even when each nation maintains its own identity, borders do not have to become economic impediments. There is no doubt that this region has different kinds of government it’s not Europe and there are certainly differences among the economies. In at least four matters, however, I believe agreement can be reached, even when differences exist, even though differences exist:

a. If the Middle East does not join forces to fight desertification, it will become one great desert. You fight the desert by means of water by utilizing water resources correctly, by recycling water where possible, by desalinating seawater, by applying science and technology, by planning. Israel has increased its agricultural output by a factor of 12 in the past 25 years by using science and technology intelligently, without increasing the area of cultivated land and without obtaining large additional quantities of water.

b. Nature and history have endowed our region with unprecedented tourist attractions. The timelessness of Jerusalem, the might of the pyramids, the beauty of the palaces of Petra, the pillars of Baalbek, are incomparable tourist attractions. All of these, in a region of blue skies and summery weather. Tourism can create hundreds of thousands of jobs, attract calm, and create an interest in preserving calm. The task that was once handled by a garrison force can be handled today by large-scale great regional tourism.

c. We must build a modern economic infrastructure in the region: pipelines for oil, gas, and water; railroads and highways; new airports and seaports; and modern telecommunications that will turn the geographic proximity of the region into an economic advantage for everyone living there.

d. Finally, we must make a concerted effort to reduce negative expenditures, overblown arms races, bloated armies, and regimes that consume taxpayers’ money to maintain anachronistic secret police and murderous censorship apparatuses. None of these will receive outside assistance in any case, and they no longer have a place in a world where television screens show teenagers in every country how one may live in freedom, with progress, motion, and advancement. A life without backwardness, without obsolescence, without fear, without terror.

Conclusion:

Members of the Knesset:

It is an extraordinarily auspicious moment for our people, the Jewish people, and for our country, the State of Israel. It is an extraordinarily auspicious moment for our region and for our Arab and other neighbors. Let us not treat the minutiae with contempt, even if we wallow in them. We must maintain our defense strength in order to smash violence and deter enemies. But let us also open the gates wide to Jewish immigration, and to a new Middle East that will usher us into the 21st century, on the side of the winners, not that of the losers, on the side of those who hope, not those who despair.