Jerusalem, 8 December 1993


(…) Regarding the efforts to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the objective is to make peace between two entities, between whom there is no love lost, which are geographically mixed, and cross each other’s paths daily in thousands, if not tens of thousands of vehicles. How does one create a peaceful coexistence, as a transitory stage, as an intermediate arrangement? I knew this was complex, I knew that there would be resistance both from the Palestinian side and from the Israeli side, certainly from those living in the territories, though, not by all of them.

Secondly, over time it became clear to me the we must stop the ‘Purim Schpiel’ as its known in Yiddish, the masquerade. Although we had stated that the delegation of Palestinians from the territories were the representative – they came to Madrid under whose mandate? They came by decision of the Palestinian National Council. The PNC made the decisions, appointed the delegation members and dictated their mandate.

So at a certain point, in the first quarter of 1993, I authorized contacts with the PLO, to test the waters and find out if that body was willing to make changes in those basic elements which had prevented it from becoming negotiating partner with us: – The cease its opposition to the very right of the State of Israel to exist, which form the fundamental basis of the Palestinian Charter, – To express readiness to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the future through peaceful means only, – To halt terrorism and violent acts by those whom they could control, – To view as inoperative and non-valid those clauses of the Palestinian Charter which oppose Israel’s right to exist. (…)

We decided to try and take full advantage of this opportunity to advance in the direction of peace with the Palestinians. A Declaration of Principles is not a peace agreement. It is a huge step in the direction of peace, it is an agreement on establishing an arrangement for the interim period.

What did we insist upon in the negotiations on the implementation of the Declaration of Principles in its initial stage Gaza and Jericho first?

– [1] First and foremost we insisted upon all the security matters. Beyond security, the first thing was that, even today, there has never been an agreement with an Arab party which consented, even in an interim arrangement, to preserve the completeness and unity of Jerusalem under Israeli rule. I do not say that this is agreement for a permanent solution. Even at Camp David, with all the tremendous achievement of then Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who had the strength to agree to uproot the entire Israeli presence in Sinai, thereby creating a precedent which will stand before us in the future he also agreed to an autonomy, to a strong Palestinian police force who he certainly did not mean would be strong armed only with riotsticks.

– [2] We went on this basis and said ‘Gaza and Jericho first.’ We insisted, in order that for once we would change the precedent that an agreement would have to entail the uprooting of [Jewish] settlements, on the principle that not one Jewish settlement would be uprooted in the interim period there are settlements in the territories that I think were a mistake to establish. And this is despite the fact that a Labor Party government would not have agreed to the establishment of such a large number of the settlements which were established I am not speaking about the confrontation lines, Jerusalem or Gush Etzion. However, after these settlements were set up, we said that being in a government in which there is no right-wing element, we do not want in an interim agreement to uproot even one settlement. This is the second thing.

– [3] That Israel will have overall responsibility for the security of the Israelis in the settlements, and in those place where they need to move about. So, the third thing we insist upon in addition to a united Jerusalem and not uprooting settlements is overall Israeli responsibility for the security of Israelis on the roads and in the settlements.

-[4] The fourth thing is responsibility for security from external threats.

-[5] The fifth thing is to leave all options open for both sides, regarding negotiations for the permanent solution.

I believe that this is the correct way. There are risks, but also opportunities. If we are successful in translating the Declaration of Principles, according to our position and according to what is written in the Declaration, I would see this as a breakthrough in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict what so many have called the heart of the entire Arab-Israeli conflict. (…)

We are currently in a very sensitive period, of expectations perhaps exaggerated for immediate results from the signing of a Declaration of Principles, even before we have reached an agreement on the beginning of its implementation, on both the Palestinian and the Israeli sides.

This agreement also has its opponents, Palestinian and Israeli: The Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, the ten Palestinian rejectionist organizations who, from their locations in Syria and Lebanon, have openly declared their opposition to the Agreement and engage in terrorism since they believe that only through terrorism and violence can they achieve their aims regarding Israel which is, basically, Israel’s destruction. Though they have never succeeded, are not now succeeding, and will not succeed, in destroying Israel through terrorism, since September 13 they have carried out terrorist acts intended to create opposition on both the Israeli and the Palestinian sides, in order to torpedo the chance for peace.

I know that this is a sensitive subject for the public, and naturally for those living in the settlements. However, whether or not we agreed with the decision to establish the settlements, we have inherited them and this government is committed to ensuring their security. (…)

Today, the IDF is committing large forces in order to ensure the security of the settlements and their residents in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. 120 companies, and sometimes more, are serving in the territories to guard the safety of the Jewish residents living in the territories. For your information, along the Lebanese border and in the security zone there is only a quarter of the number of IDF forces currently in the territories, not to mention the efforts of the GSS and various other forces. Today, there are almost four-times as many IDF forces in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza than in the north and the security zone. (…)

It is true that, since September 13, there has been a trend, especially by those active in Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, to launch attacks. Recently, we have come to know that, if the Hamas had previously targeted soldiers in uniform, it has in recent weeks changed its objective and is now trying to attack Israeli civilians. The reason is simple: the Hamas has reached the conclusion that by attacking Israeli civilians, especially in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, it can inflame the Israeli public against the agreement. And if the Hamas believes that this is happening, it will be encouraged to attack more Israeli civilians and not the security forces.

We are utilizing all of these forces, at the expense of training and other activities, because for the IDF and the government ensuring security in the territories is currently top priority. (…) Certainly, as far as I’m concerned as one who wishes to establish condition most conducive to negotiations the last thing I want is terrorism, both because of what it is and because of the political ramifications.

I have recently read that the IDF, or the government, is about to give not one, but 15,000 rifles, to the Palestinians. This is total nonsense . We have no intention of giving the Palestinian police, if and when it is established, anything. They will have to equip themselves from wherever they do so, in the framework of the same agreement regarding its size and weaponry. The idea of a strong Palestinian police force was not mine. But, I think that the decision was a correct one. (…)

We see in the implementation of the Declaration of Principles a correct division of labor that Gaza, Khan Yunis, Rafiah, the refugee camps and the daily life of the Palestinians, will be run by the Palestinians themselves. I do not believe that Zionism aspires to control another people. In my eyes, Zionism is not simply territorial expansion. It is first of all building a people, a Jewish state, Jewish values, immigrant absorption, ensuring security and a desire to achieve peace. (…)