SELECTED QUOTES FROM PRIME MINISTER YITZHAK RABIN’S VISIT TO THE U.S. AND CANADA – PART II

NOVEMBER 16-20, 1993

Sources:

1. Remarks before group of Arab and Arab-American diplomats, journalists, business executives and scholars hosted by Middle East Insight Magazine, Washington, D.C., November 16, 1993 (MEI).

2. Canadian media (as noted).

3. CNN interview with Evans and Novak – November 20, 1993 (CNN).

Bilateral Talks and Comprehensive Peace

I believe a comprehensive peace is a peace with all the Arab neighboring countries and the Palestinians, but on a bilateral basis… We have to remember that the essence of these talks are like bricks of a building. That comprehensive agreements come by way of bilateral agreements and are made like bricks, one by one. Once they are forged to create these bricks, one by one with all the partners, then we will achieve the overall comprehensive peace. Therefore it’s not a question of whether one party will come, or all the parties. It is what is done on a bilateral basis. With the Palestinians we have done that. We hope to do the same with the Jordanians, the Syrians, and the Lebanese. (MEI)

Continuation of the Peace Process

We continue our negotiations with Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. I believe that with Jordan and Lebanon it will be easier beause there are no territorial problems related to the achievement of a peace treaty. With Syria it will be more complicated, but agreement with Syria is much more important, strategically, to Israel, and no doubt that once it will be achieved, the threat of war against Israel will be reduced tremendously. (Canada AM, Montreal, 19.11.93)

Secret Talks with Arab Countries

[Regarding secret talks] I wouldn’t say, because once I would say that, I would practically violate the basic confidence that has to be established between all parties who are ready to have secret negotiations. I will not say that they are or they are not in existence… Unfortunately, I’ll say it and say it only once, and vis-a-vis only one Arab country: Until this moment, there have been no such talks with Syria. (CBC Prime Time News, Ottawa, 17.11.93)

Negotiations with the Palestinians

Purpose of the DOP

What is the purpose [of the DOP]? We want, even for the interim period, that the Palestinians should run the lives of the Palestinians in the territories. We don’t know what they would like. We would like to see a council, a self-governing authority that will be established in accordance to the DOP, by elections, and chosen by the Palestinians themselves. Democracy cannot be imposed. It has to be their the Palestinians’ decision to do it, and I believe that they prefer to do it, but it is up to them. And, at the same time, to keep the Israeli occupants secure in accordance to what is written in the DOP. The Palestinians will be responsible for public order, security of all the Palestinians in the territories. Israel will be responsible for the security of the Israelis in the settlements and for overall security of border areas…

I’m not trying to oversimplify the road to achieve these goals. Even to implement the interim agreement, even to implement the first phase, the Gaza-Jericho phase, will be much more difficult, in contradiction to the achievement of a peace treaty with the additional three Arab neighboring countries and Israel. With Arab countries, in signing peace treaties, we have to decide about the line that will divide between them and us they will be on one side, we on another. As it happened with Egypt, we hope it will happen with Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, with whom we are committed to continue our peace neogtiations. With the Palestinians we have, from the interim period, to create peaceful co-existence between people who live right next to each other and who criss-cross every day from one part of this very small land to the other… (MEI)

Fulfilling PLO Commitments

I believe that the first and the most important criterion by which I’ll judge the mutual recognition letters between the PLO and us, and the DOP the Declaration of Principles is by what way every one of us, the two sides, will keep their commitments. Any giving up about one another’s commitments will be a basic mistake. One of the major issues that led me to change my mind vis-a-vis the PLO, to have the mutual recognition between the PLO and the Israelis, and my readiness to sign an agreement with them and to shake hands with Arafat was the exchange of letters between him and me. And the major element in his letter was the denouncing and rejection of violence and terror. This is an item in accordance to which I’ll judge his credibility at the present and in the future. I believe the basic in any negotiations between Israelis and Arabs, whether it be with the PLO, whether it be with another Arab country, is credibility. Each side must maintain its commitment.

Q: Do you think he maintained his commitment with that apology?

A: I believe he should do better. In the letter that he sent to me that talked about the mutual recognition, in addition to rejecting, denouncing, he also took upon himself to discipline those of his organization that will violate this commitment. (CNN)

Release of Palestinian Prisoners

There are no definitive numbers. All the prisoners who were brought to court and sentenced should be part of the agreement involving the implementation of at least the first phase of the overall agreement for the interim self-government for the Palestinains. I believe to release them now, it would not encourage credibility in the relationship.

– First we have to distinguish between those who belong to the part of the Palestinian movement which is committed to peace negotiations, and those who declare that they are opposed and carry out terror with the purpose to destroy the agreement.

– Second, how many who were sentenced for killing, also Palestinians, and what should we do with them. I believe at a later stage, we will have to negotiate with the Palestinians, but once we will establish and implement at least a first phase. There was a request to release the oldest prisoner, who was released. Now he heads the special committee that deals with the situation of the prisoners.

– Third, I tell you quite frankly, it is not so easy for the Israeli public on one hand to see the continuation of violence and terrorism in the nation, and the release of prisoners who were engaged in the same kind of actions. It has to be done when we reach the final stages of the interim agreement, and we’ll see the beginning of the implementation and taking over control by the Palestinian police of the Palestinian densely populated areas. (MEI)

Israeli Policy on Settlements

When I was elected, one of my first acts was to cut 7,000 units of housing units that were intended to be built in the territories, in the settlements. And I cut them. I had to pay compensation to the construction businesses because if even they had started to build, even if they had the foundations, unless they were almost completed we cut them. So it’s our policy regardless of the agreement with the Palestinians. We changed our order of national priorities. Pouring money into the settlements in the territories is not anymore the policy of the present government of Israel.

You have to bear in mind that the population of Israel today is 5.2 million people, out of which about 4.25 million are Israeli Jewish citizens. Out of them, 4.1 million Israeli Jewish citizens live on the sovereign soil of Israel, including united Jerusalem; 140,000 to 150,000 live in the Golan Heights, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Let’s put everything in proportion. (CNN)

Negotatiations with Syria

We all the time asked and agreed to continue our talks with Syria, as with the other Arab countries. No doubt agreement with Syria has tremendous strategic importance to both our countries and to the stability in the region. We have found that talking in the limelight of the media without having direct, secret meetings in preparation of agreement do not produce agreement. Allow me to remind you, what preceded the visit of President Sadat in 1977 to Israel were secret meetings between Dayan and Tehomi. What preceded the ceremony on the lawn of the White House on the 13th of September were the the secret talks at Oslo. The meaning is, that we advise to arrange meetings with every Arab partner that are not exposed to the media.

Q: Do you think that because President Assad has not gone along with this idea, does that mean he doesn’t want an agreement on the Golan?

A: What we are talking about with Syria is peace treaty. The Golan Heights is one of the issues. I wouldn’t come to the conclusion that he doesn’t want peace because he doesn’t agree to quiet, secret meetings, but it makes it more difficult for Israel.

Negotiations with Lebanon

With Lebanon, we have no territorial ambitions. Both our countries, Lebanon and Israel, recognize the international boundary that existed between British Mandate Palestinian and Lebanon, in accordance with the armistice agreement that we signed in 1949 with Lebanon. There were no territorial disputes. Israel has no desire to have one square inch of the Lebanese sovereign soil.

Our problem with Lebanon is limited to security. Unfortunately, for a long period there was no government in Lebanon that could control its own sovereign soil and prevent the use of its own soil as a springboard for attacks against Israel…

First we would like to see and I believe Lebanon is capable now to deploy their forces up to the border of the security zone. To prove that in six months they can disarm Hizbullah and stop terror attacks against the security zone and Israel. If there are results in three months, we are ready to sign a peace treaty with Lebanon. We will vacate all the Lebanese sovereign soil on two conditions:

– a security arrangement that will not infringe on their sovereignty or on the Lebanese territory and, I stress again, there is no question as to what is the international boundary, in existence since the end of the First World War; and
– the handling of the Lebanese that were in the security zone should be as it happened with the other militias that were disarmed in the last one and a half years, that nothing will happen to them.

Therefore, a two-phase proposal, hoping that in six months we can maintain tranquility and witness the diarming of the last militia in Lebanon that was not disarmed. The Lebanese army disarmed the Palestinians’ militia, the other militias the Phalange, the Druze. They did not disarm the Hizbullah, for reasons that I will not elaborate. If the situation improves in half a year, the road is open for a peace treaty, a full-fledged peace treaty. We have no territorial problems, we do not want one square inch of Lebanese woil or one cubic meter of their water. (MEI)