EXCERPTS FROM REMARKS BY PRIME MINISTER YITZHAK RABIN AT PRESS CONFERENCE FOLLOWING THE SIGNING OF THE GAZA-JERICHO AGREEMENT

(As broadcast on Israel Radio)

CAIRO, MAY 4, 1994

We signed today the agreement about Gaza-Jericho first, which is the first phase of the implementation of the DOP signed last September in Washington. I believe the minor incident that took place on the platform shows you the difficulties that we experienced in the last over seven months of negotiations of the detailed implementation of the first phase, the Gaza-Jericho agreement why we stressed preparing agreement, which all the details that we considered to be vital to its success must be worked out.

We are trying here to create peaceful coexistence between two entities that there is no love lost between them and I put it mildly. The purpose is to create the kind of peaceful coexistence that on one hand the Palestinian authority will run the lives of the Palestinians in the agreed areas the Gaza Strip and Jericho. The main problem is in Gaza with three quarter of a million Palestinians as opposed to 16-20,000 in the Jericho area. The economic difficulties are much bigger in Gaza.

We want to maintain security security for the State of Israel, that is to say external security. We agreed with the Palestinians in the DOP about having the settlements. Therefore we are carrying the overall responsibility for the settlements in the territories, especially in the Gaza Strip in the Jericho area there are no Israeli settlements and of course to their movement from the settlements to Israel, or passing like in Jericho from the northern part into Jerusalem. We knew that unless everything will be prepared in details, there will be no chance to succeed in building this peaceful coexistence.

Second, we found that much time was lost without overlapping activities on their part. It starts only today, when 22 officers of their police will go there. We have to build and to create three centers of coordination two in the Gaza Strip, one in Jericho through which coordination between the Israeli military forces and the Palestinian police and other security activities will be coordinated. Otherwise the clashes can create a real problem.

Therefore, we did not lose time. After all, we could complete the handing over from our own part in two-three weeks from today maybe even in ten days. The problem today, as the Chairman of the PLO said last night, is that he might demand a little bit more two, three even up to four weeks. We would like, once we have reached agreement, do get out as quickly as possible from wherever we have to get out. But we have an address, a capable address, to hand over responsibility for the lives of the Palestinians in the territories.

To give you one example: We today pay to the Civil Administration under the military government of Israel in the Gaza Strip for 24,000 people 6,000 permanent employees of the Civil Administration, 18,000 as a special budget that was appropriated to prevent too high unemployment…

Without coordination between us and the Palestinian police there will be a problem. Since they intend to bring the first few thousand from the outside, most of them people who have not been for 20 or 27 years in the Gaza Strip or in Jericho how long will it take to acquaint themselves with the new changes in the area? Twenty-seven years ago, when we entered the Gaza Strip during the Six Day War, there were less than 300,000 people there. Today it’s three quarter of a million, if not 800,000. There are practical problems that unfortunately not enough focus was given in proper preparation for the handing over. We’ll have now to waste time, from our point of view, because for whatever we have agreed and from wherever we have agreed to pull out, we are ready to do it as quickly as possible. We’ll wait to see today, tomorrow, the day after, hopefully the infrastructure, the overlapping will be done in proper time and proper way.

We are committed to what we signed today. We know that the partner is not accustomed to be ingresponsible for the life of a community, has limited experience in certain issues. But there are very capable Palestinians, and I believe that there is no shortage of capable people there, if they will have the determination and the guidance to do what has been agreed on.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Q: Did Mr. Arafat tell you last night that he would sign the maps?

PM RABIN: I’ll explain what happened. Unfortunately, the media in the last three months built up two issues that would be decided in the meeting between Chairman Arafat and myself. One is a Palestinian policeman on the bridge, the other is the size of the Jericho area. Believe me, the two are symbols which each side might be important, but this is not the crux of the problem that we face together in Gaza-Jericho alone. The issues that I refer to how to maintain the lives of the Palestinians, to develop them economically, socially; the question of security these are the two issues that will decide the success or the failure of the attempt that we are engaged in. But the media built it up.

I was limited by the principles that I was guided by when we decided on Jericho in addition to Gaza that it will be a limited area, that it will not include any Israeli settlement, in contradiction to Gaza. Second, for me, security along the external lines. It is to say that the external security interpretation, especially along the Jordan River, is an issue of great concern. Therefore, I couldn’t meet his expectations. He brought up another issue about special arrangements in the Rafiah terminal, and he demanded that there the director-general would be Palestinian. I couldn’t meet this demand. Why? For me, external security is control over whoever and whatever enters from Egypt, from Jordan through the Jordan bridges, to the territories and then to Israel. For me, these are key issues related to Israeli security.

First, at this stage, we will sign the agreement on the basis of my position. That is to say, we added a certain amount of area to the Jericho area as it was described before yesterday, and I agreed that we can continue discussions on the issues. But when we enter into the agreement, when we sign, it will be on the basis of my answers.

How did it end? First, I made it clear that unless the maps will be signed, there will be no agreement and I will not speak. Because the agreement without signing the maps has no meaning. There is no agreement without a map. He and I agreed that the discussions on this issue will be continued without affecting the implementation of the agreement based on what we know as of last night. I agreed to send a letter in which I will say that there will be continued discussions not negotiation on these three issues.

Q: Your speech today was focusing a lot on victims and bloodshed, and didn’t really capture the spirit of peace. Does that reflect how you were feeling during the ceremony?

PM RABIN: I’m sure that from the part of the Palestinians, they look to a dramatic change in their lives. It is for the first time that Palestinians will run a large community in what used to be British mandate Palestine. From our point of view, the main test is security…

Q: (On Jerusalem)

PM RABIN: We know that the issue of Jerusalem will be brought up in accordance with what we signed in the DOP. That is to say, not later than two years after the completion of the implementation of Gaza- Jericho first. Jerusalem will not be discussed when we negotiate the second phase of the interim agreement on the elections, the final composition of the Palestinian authority and the future of Judea and Samaria…

Q: (On a Palestinian state)

PM RABIN: Vis-a-vis their position about a Palestinian state at the end of the negotiations: There is nothing new about it. They came with it to the Madrid peace conference at the end of ’91. This was their declared position. We agreed in the DOP that at this stage we focus on the interim agreement, and I wish ourselves success in the implementation of its first phase Gaza-Jericho first. At this stage, I don’t want to deal with the permanent solution. We don’t accept the Palestinian goal of an independent Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan. We believe that there is a separate Palestinian entity, short of state.