NBC ‘TODAY’ INTERVIEW WITH: ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER SHIMON PERES

FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 1994

MR. PHILLIPS: There was more violence today in the occupied territories; a Palestinian shot after he attacked two Jewish settlers with a knife. What can Israel do to break this latest cycle of violence?

FOR. MIN. PERES: None of us can do anything single-handed. I think what is needed is a joint effort on the part of the Palestinians and our own part to overcome this very difficult, bitter and stormy period, and provide security both to the Palestinians and ourselves in the most reasonable and assuring way.

MR. PHILLIPS: Is there any progress to report this morning on efforts to get the talks back on track?

FOR. MIN. PERES: Not yet. There are different suggestions how to do in order to overcome the present crisis. My own feeling is that the best way to do so is really to translate the agreement on paper into a reality in the area. I believe that once the Palestinians will take over their self-government and will begin to control the Gaza area and the Jericho area, the whole situation will change at once. It will be a real drama and promise. If we shall go on and look for one medicine or another medicine in that pharmacy or another pharmacy, not much will happen. Time has come for a major change. And the major change is to implement what we have already agreed upon.

MR. PHILLIPS: Your government is refusing so far to meet Palestinian demands that all settlers be disarmed and all settlements be dismantled. Short of that, are there any concrete steps you can announce this morning that will address Palestinian security concerns?

FOR. MIN. PERES: We distinguish very carefully in Israel between persons who are potentially dangerous and people who are otherwise responsible. Against ones who are potentially dangerous, we are ready to take every possible mean under the law; namely, to disarm them or even to exile them or even to detain them. They published some numbers that we have in mind to detain five persons or to disarm 15. This is nonsense. The government did not decide on numbers. The government has decided on principles; namely, whoever may endanger the life of a Palestinian or an Israeli it doesn’t matter will be disarmed, will be removed, and maybe also detained.

Now, we cannot do it against people whose lives are in danger. You see, the PLO too cannot guarantee that terror will stop. Let’s not forget that while we were negotiating, our people have been stabbed and killed. Nobody can guarantee 100 percent of security. Now, if a settler who is responsible and who is peace-loving wants to defend his life, we cannot take away from him the right to do so. And like in any democracy, we cannot be arbitrary in our approach. We have to take all the measures against dangerous people and none of the measures against innocent people.

MR. PHILLIPS: On Thursday, a PLO envoy in Washington seemed to soften the position somewhat, moving away, focusing less on the dismantlement of settlements, and focusing on disarmament. And he once again raised the issue of an international force coming in to keep the peace in the occupied territories. Is that becoming a distinct possibility?

FOR. MIN. PERES: No. You see, I am not so sure that an international force can bring peace. It didn’t bring peace neither to Lebanon nor to Somalia nor to Angola nor to Bosnia. It is very far from being a promise. On the other hand, they may become targets for an attempt on their life by the Hamas. We are terribly worried about it. We are ready, as we have announced, to sit together with the Palestinians and see if there is a way or room to enlarge their police force. We ourselves will take more security measures to guarantee the safety of the people. But to have 100 observers or 200 observers at other places in the country won’t really help in any way.