PRIME MINISTER YITZHAK RABIN’S ADDRESS TO THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS –

JANUARY 28, 1993

Ambassadors, Heads of Delegations, my colleagues,

Let me start, first, by reiterating what is the policy of Israel, of the present government of Israel, in the field of peace and security: readiness to make compromises.

I believe that, for example, in our negotiations with the Syrians, there was no government maybe in ’67 for a few months, but not since then an Israeli government that accepted the principles of Resolutions 242 and 338: readiness to withdraw the armed forces of Israel on the Golan Heights to secure and recognized boundaries. We are the first government of Israel that was ready for that. We accepted the principle of withdrawal. We said we will not negotiate the dimension of the withdrawal before we know what for what kind of peace is offered to us? We left it open for further negotiations.

With regard to the Palestinians, we first carried out acts. We cut 7,000 housing units that were supposed to be built. We cut on September 1 all grants to anyone who is going to settle there. We passed last Sunday a comprehensive approach of reclassification of the areas which will be supported, and we put the bulk of the areas of the territories out of it. We offered the Palestinians general elections, once we decide what we are going to elect. We believe, in accordance to what I think the U.S., Israel and Egypt are committed by the Camp David Accords, to have now it is not called autonomy ISGA, as a transition period, as an interim agreement for a transition period for five years. Not later than the beginning of the third year, negotiations on a permanent solution, based on Resolutions 242 and 338, with the Palestinians will be conducted. Practically to hand over to the Palestinians almost all the duties of the civil administration and to abolish it. I can’t recall that any Arab country, when it was forgive me, Ambassador Bassiouny either Jordan on the West Bank or Egypt in the Gaza Strip, were ready to offer the Palestinians what we offer them today, as a transitional period.

But at the same time, we are responsible for the security of the people, and the security of its population, Israelis and Palestinians alike. I believe that in Israel, it will be impossible to make painful compromises for peace, if the people will not realize that it brings with it security.

We have seen, the last year, an increase in activities of the Islamic extremist terrorist groups, like the HAMAS and the Islamic Jihad. The PLO carries out terror, too. There is no difference between the terror of the two it might be that the Islamic extremist terror groups are more fanatic, trying to take greater risks but terror is terror. Therefore, in terror maybe there is no difference between PLO and the Islamic extremist terror groups. But the political purposes are entirely different. The Islamic extremist terror groups their declared goal is to put an end to the peace negotiations, which was not the purpose of the others.

We have seen increased activities, supported from Iran. Practically HAMAS have got a permanent representation in Teheran, and there was an escalation of murders, assassinations, including Palestinians. We had to say to ourselves I had to say to myself: What are we going to do? Some people say: Why don’t you put them before the courts, sentence 20 to death? It would be in accordance with the Geneva Convention, because death penalties are allowed in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

I am proud of the fact that Israel has never sentenced to death and executed but one person: Adolf Eichmann. No Palestinian terrorist, whatever he has done, has been sentenced to death, and the death penalty was executed. I prefer to stand the so-called condemnation of the world for deportation, and for the temporary removal of people for one and a half and two years, than to sentence to death, or to ask the court for sentence of death. We are proud of the fact that no one, no one, was sentenced to death and the sentence was carried out, among the Palestinians.

What to do? To increase open fire? To increase destruction of houses? We decided to take something that will be effective immediately vis-a-vis the HAMAS and the Islamic Jihad, but it will not cause any death to anyone, and it is reversible. As the family of Sergeant Major Nissim Toledano said to me: I wish that the death of our son would be reversible. We would accept five years, eight years, being removed, than to be slaughtered and buried under the earth.

We believe that as a result of what we have done, the HAMAS and Islamic Jihad suffered a setback. We are in the real process of inquiry, investigations, and I believe we will surprise many people all over the world about the depth, the connections, the countries wherefrom they get all their support. But, at this stage, I prefer to make sure that we’ll catch whoever can be caught. No doubt, it brought about reduction in terms of the activities of the HAMAS and the Islamic Jihad.

I have no illusion that you can achieve by one act in fighting terrorism, a total success. It’s a prolonged process, and no doubt that for a while, and I don’t know for how long, the HAMAS and the Islamic Jihad suffered a setback of course, if there will be no change to what we have done.

Many people ask: What will happen with the peace negotiations? The policy of the present government: We face terrorism. Israelis got killed, not only in the territories but also in Israel, by Palestinians from the territories. We have never put it as a precondition for the continuation of the peace negotiations. I remember in November-December, I was attacked in the Knesset: Why don’t you stop the peace negotiations? While Israelis got killed, killed by organizations that their purpose in the killing of Israelis and Palestinians is to end to peace negotiations, we said: We separate. We negotiate peace like there is no terror. We will cope with terror like there are no peace negotiations.

Now, when no Palestinian got killed by our decision to send the 415 (I believe about 16 of them were brought back, which means there are less than 400 now), none of them to put this as a condition on the part of some of the Arab parties for the continuation of the peace negotiations? What right do they have? If we accept killing of Israelis by terrorism, and can live with it and it’s not so simple and don’t make the stopping of this killing a precondition for the peace negotiatiations, what right, what moral right, has the demand that the peace negotiations will not be continued till this problem will be solved? Tomorrow, if this will be accepted, why shouldn’t we say that we will not negotiate as long as killing of Israelis continues?

I believe there should be no conditions to the peace negotiations not by our side, not by the Arab side. Any deviation from this principle will lead nowhere.

I believe and I feel that the report of the Secretary General was unfair, biased, with not mentioning all through the report one word: the word ‘terror’ is not mentioned there. And whenever there are any observations about the HAMAS, it is as a quotation of what I said to the special emissaries of the Secretary General. Above all, to say that, not in these words ‘double standards’, etc. how one can compare what we have done to what Iraq did since the invasion, occupation and annexation of Kuwait, or what Libya did by giving refuge to terrorists that put a bomb that exploded a French plane with 170 innocent passengers who got killed, and a Pan American airline with 270 innocent passengers; or to Bosnia or Yugoslavia, where 40,000, maybe 60,000 people lost their lives in that war. When here, not one, as a result of our action, lost his life or was even wounded. If this is ‘double standards’, believe me, I don’t know how people look at the term ‘double standards.’

As you know, the Supreme Court decided whatever was decided. For all practical purposes, the Supreme Court accepted that the deportation on the basis of the emergency regulations could be done without right of hearing, but to keep the right of hearing after… They have the right to hearing. We are going to follow every word that the Supreme court ordered the government, to facilitate, to create these conditions, even though I don’t believe that they’ll come.

As far as the Security Council, I believe that any decision or any resolution by the Security Council that will make the HAMAS the winner, will undermine any hope for reaching peace and continuation of the peace negotiations. Once Palestinians, Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese will come to the conclusion that through the U.N. Security Council they can extricate concessions vis-a-vis whom? vis-a-vis the HAMAS and the Islamic Jihad [there will be] no chance for the peace negotiations.

Whoever doesn’t want to undermine the peace negotiations should prevent any U.N. Security Council resolutions that will ask or will put on Israel certain elements of sanctions. I believe that in accordance with Chapter 7, first you have to decide that what we have done endangers the peace in the region and in the world. It’s a joke, that temporary removal of 415, now less than 400, endangered the peace in the region and in the world when no one got killed. But in any way, any attempt to twist the hand of Israel in favor of the HAMAS, I will feel as a Prime Minister of Israel that this kind of resolution which I believe will not be taken will undermine Israel’s capability to negotiate peace.

In simple terms, what the Supreme Court told us to do to give and to make it possible for every one of the deportees, once he has submitted in writing on an individual basis a request to be returned, we have to make it possible for him to transmit his request, either through the ICRC [or otherwise].

I believe we announced that from 10:00 tomorrow morning, an officer will wait for whoever will come, not the bulk of them, in groups, we are ready to receive them, near the Zumraya passage. It is possible for them to come in small groups and to submit that letter. If there will be a need, we can arrange a courier not Israeli, one of the Lebanese who live there to go whenever they want. We are ready to have a telephone a few hundred meters ways, capabilities, to phone to their lawyers wherever they are in Israel, in the territories.

Fourteen advisory committees were appointed today. They are the advisory committees in accordance with Regulation 112, that before them they can appeal. If they want to meet their lawyers, after putting their request no problem. As for a hearing before the committees, we have not decided yet the exact place, but we’ll find facilities to which the lawyers and the deportees personally, if it will be needed, will be able to come.

Whatever the Supreme Court asked, in accordance with the definition of the area by the Supreme Court, was referred to everywhere where the IDF can supply all the facilities and the security which are needed for the deportee, for the lawyer, or for whoever needs to be involved in it.

In addition, the Supreme Court took into its consideration the statement by the Attorney General that we will establish a review committee that, regardless if the deportees will appeal or not, will review the categories more carefully of those who were deported, to find out to what extent it is justified. It’s unilateral action, which is not dependent on the request of any one of those who are there.

I don’t believe that the HAMAS will allow anyone who is there to appeal or to ask for reviewing before the advisory committee. The ICRC people told us that they went there last Saturday. The leadership, Rantisi, did not allow them to enter the camp. They told them: ‘You stay 200 meters outside the camp.’ They didn’t want to accept the bulk of the medical supplies. They chose certain items. They didn’t want to accept the pills for purifying the water. They took the letters from the families, 850 letters. They refused to sign a power of attorney. I believe that some that were signed were torn to pieces by Rantisi. They asked for hospitalization of some of the people now five of them are hospitalized in the Marjayoun hospital. Believe me, none of them is in danger of life, but we decided to be on the safe side, not to create a minimal risk. I don’t believe that in Israel these people who are hospitalized would be hospitalized, being civilians here. One of them was hospitalized because he got a ricochet by a bullet fired by a Lebanese soldier, and therefore he can’t eat and we thought: OK, let’s take him to hospital so that he will not die from hunger.

There are therefore two ways: 1. The legal way, that normally takes place before the deportation. But the same legal procedures will be carried out by the decision of the Supreme Court after. And we’ll create all the conditions that it will be fulfilled. 2. We added on our own intiative, that was adopted by the decision of the Supreme Court unilateral review of the cases.

This is where we stand on this issue. I hope as the President of the European Parliament said I hope this incident will be put aside. It can be put aside, if the international community will not play the song in accordance to the notes of the HAMAS.