PRIME MINISTER YITZHAK RABIN’S SPEECH

T APRIL 18, 1994:

Mr. Speaker, Honored Knesset,

Last week, we celebrated the forty-sixth anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel and its independence. Today, we return to our daily lives. But we may all look back with pride and forward, with great hope.

Forty-six difficult years of struggle for life, and of building an economy and society, have brought about the great accomplishments of the State of Israel. Despite its deficiencies, it is today one of the more fascinating and beautiful countries in the world; a place where it is good to live. I want to take the opportunity, of the opening of the Knesset’s summer session, to again congratulate the citizens of Israel on the occasion of Independence Day.

Members of Knesset,

The last Independence Day took place in the shadow of the terrorist attacks, and of the most recent attack just before the Memorial Day siren. Five civilians and soldiers died in the explosion of a bomb at the central bus station in Hadera. The bomb was planted by a base murderer, a member of HAMAS, who apparently chose to perish with his innocent victims. The Knesset, the entire country, join in the mourning and agony of the bereaved families. We wish to offer our condolences to them in their suffering. The Knesset and the Government also wish a speedy recovery to the wounded.

Mr. Speaker, Honored Knesset,

Last September we embarked on a new path. We set forth on an honest attempt to turn over a page of history stained with the blood of both Jews later Israelis and Palestinians. We decided not to engage in an accounting of the past. We decided to overcome the residuum of bloodshed and hatred. We decided to try and create a new and better future for both peoples who have been summoned to the same tract of land by fate and history.

We came with a desire to make peace, and I must tell you, Members of Knesset, that we also found a willingness for peace on the other side, on the part of the Palestinians who have also known great suffering for generations. Both we and the Palestinians knew that we would not receive everything we want, and the Palestinians would not get everything they want. That is the nature of negotiations. That is the nature of compromise. That is the nature of peace.

The negotiations with the Palestinians on "Gaza and Jericho first" continue even today and, in my opinion, we are at an advanced stage. I hope that it will be possible to conclude the negotiations in a short time.

It is our current assessment that, shortly after the agreement is signed, IDF and other security forces will be able to conclude their redeployment in the wake of the Gaza-Jericho negotiations and the attempt to create peaceful co-existence with the Palestinians will be tested.

I say to you: I an awaiting for this moment when I will feel more comfortable, as Defense Minister, not having to send IDF soldiers to patrol in metropolitan Gaza City with its 250,000 Palestinians, in refugee camps, in Khan Yunis, in Rafiah, in Dir al-Balah.

I want to add: In the wake of reports that have been published true or not I wish to clarify that any PLO agreement or accord with HAMAS on the possibility of continued HAMAS terror with the approval of the PLO will prevent the achievement and implementation of an agreement [between Israel and the Palestinians].

Members of Knesset,

This Government, which promised to make every effort for peace, also intends to continue talks with Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Towards the end of April or the beginning of May, the bilateral talks in Washington will resume, and Secretary of State Warren Christopher will apparently come to the region to prepare the talks in order to facilitate progress toward the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and the neighboring countries.

At the peace talks, to date, we have yet to encounter an appropriate measure of openness and flexibility on the part of the Syrians which would enable a breakthrough and a substantive discussion with respect to a peace agreement. Even the efforts of our American friends, who so want to see peace come to our region, have been unsuccessful.

At the same time, the position of the current government is known. We are making a great effort so that the precedent of the price we paid for peace with Egypt comprehensive withdrawal, the removal of any Israeli presence will not be repeated as a condition for achieving peace with Syria. Still, we are seriously preparing for the negotiations and drawing up various options on the character of peace, the depth of the withdrawal on the Golan Heights, security arrangements and the phases for the implementation of peace so that there will be time to examine the normalization before completing the withdrawal on the Golan Heights as well as what we will require from our American friends in the wake of peace. If and when we reach a viable agreement with the Syrians, and should it require a significant withdrawal, we will hold a referendum. The people, and nobody else, will decide.

The negotiations with Lebanon are connected to the negotiations with Syria, and we know that Beirut will not lift a finger without the approval of Damascus. Despite this, we repeat even today our offer to the authorities in Beirut: We have proposed that, in the first phase, the Lebanese army be deployed up to the northern border of the security zone. For six months, it must prove its ability to maintain total calm and to disarm Hizbullah in southern Lebanon. If this is proven and total quiet reigns on the northern border of the security zone, we will begin peace negotiations that I hope will last three months. We will be prepared to withdraw to the international border between Lebanon and Israel on three conditions: full peace and normalization; appropriate security arrangements; and, of course our commitment to the SLA and the residents of southern Lebanon the integration of the SLA within the Lebanese army and a guarantee to residents of southern Lebanon that they will not be harmed.

In the negotiations with Jordan, a solution is possible. But, regrettably, I have the impression that it will not come before an agreement with Syria, the big brother who watches over all.

Members of Knesset,

I want to tell the truth. For 27 years, we have controlled another people that does not want our rule. For 27 years, the Palestinians who now number 1,800,000 have risen every morning with a burning hatred for us as Israelis and as Jews. Every morning, they awaken to a hard life and it is partly our fault but not completely. It cannot be denied: The continued rule over a foreign people who does not want us has a price. There is first of all a painful price, the price of constant confrontation between us and them.

For six and a half years, we have witnessed a popular Palestinian uprising against our rule the intifada. They are trying, through violence and terrorism, to harm us, to cause us casualties and to break our spirit.

I would like to present some figures provided to me by the IDF. Since the beginning of the uprising, 219 Israelis have been killed, murdered 68 of them security personnel and 151 civilians. A heavy price.

It is difficult for me not to recall the War of Independence. In the brigade which I had the privilege to command, in the battle to free besieged Jerusalem and the road to Jerusalem, one of the ten Haganah brigades which later became the Israel Defense Forces, the same number of people fell in the course of six months. One of the outstanding commanders of the brigade and of the IDF, MK Rafael Eitan, is sitting here, and he certainly remembers this. One of ten brigades, from slightly more than 600,000 civilians. No one’s spirit was broken then. No one capitalized on the blood.

The Israelis wounded 7,872, of whom 5,062 were security personnel and 2,810 were civilians.

1,045 Palestinians have been killed by IDF and security forces. 69 have been killed by Israeli civilians. 922 Palestinians have been killed by their own people. 99 have been killed in unknown circumstances. 21 have blown themselves up while handling explosives. A total of 2,156.

Palestinians wounded, according to IDF figures, number 18,967. I estimate that at least 25,000 have been wounded. Between 120,000 and 140,000 have been detained and imprisoned.

These are the figures of the confrontation of the past six and a half years.

What are the options which face us after 27 years of ruling and I do not want to use other terms an entity which is different from ourselves religiously, politically, nationally; another people?

The first is to leave the situation as it is, to make proposals that do not have and never had a partner and there can be no agreement without a partner. To try and perpetuate the rule over another people, to continue on a course of never-ending violence and terrorism, which will bring about a political impasse.

All the Governments of Israel certainly since the Yom Kippur War have understood the danger inherent in such an impasse.

Accordingly, all the governments have sought the second option. The second option is to try and find a political solution initially through agreements on the separation of forces. The Government of Menachem Begin chose this path in the peace agreement with Egypt. The Government of Yitzhak Shamir also went this way, in consenting to the Madrid peace conference. We have also chosen this path with the Oslo talks and the signing of the agreement in Washington.

Today, peace seems closer than ever. There is a chance, a great chance, to put an end to wars, to one hundred years of terrorism and bloodshed, one hundred years of animosity. When we embarked on the journey to peace, we knew that it would be impossible to erase one hundred years of hatred with a single signature. We knew that it would be impossible to alter concepts and education from the moment of birth. We knew that this peace would have enemies. We knew there would be people and organizations whose very existence is founded on hostility between peoples that would continue to do all in their power to enflame passions.

On the Palestinian side, the opposition to peace is led by HAMAS along with Islamic Jihad, the rejectionist organizations. The emissaries of this organization have carried out most of the recent acts of terrorism and murder, some of them in suicide operations. Over the past two or three years, we have encountered a form of radical Islamic terrorism reminiscent of Hizbullah, which emerged in Lebanon and carried out terrorist attacks including suicide attacks.

There is no end to the targets of HAMAS and other terrorist organizations every citizen, every Israeli in the territories and in sovereign Israel, including united Jerusalem: every bus and every home is a target for their murderous intentions.

With nothing separating the two populations, the current situation creates endless possibilities for the murderers of HAMAS and other terrorist organizations. According to our estimates, about 40,000 vehicles move about daily in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians move about on the roads. IDF soldiers safeguard hundreds of vehicles in the territories, on 1,200 kilometers of roads. Hundreds of thousands, Jews and Arabs, thousands of vehicles, intermingle each day. One population living within the other.

There are endless possibilities to enter Israel from the territories fewer from Gaza, more from Judea and Samaria. Many paths, both covert and exposed, lead from the territories into Israel. We cannot hermetically seal the territories before individual infiltration.

We are making every effort to ensure the security of Israeli citizens Jews and Arabs in Israel, in the territories, everywhere. I reveal to the Knesset today that a significant part of the standing force of the IDF is now engaged in missions protecting and defending Israeli citizens everywhere.

In this situation, in which the organizations continuing to engage in terrorism have endless targets, the terrorists embark on murder attacks with their foremost declared aim to murder Israelis; and, politically, to halt, to destroy the peace talks, not to allow them to continue.

At first, the murderers of HAMAS and other terrorist organizations operated primarily against the Israeli residents of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. The political intent of these murderers was that the Israeli settlers in Judea, Samaria and Gaza who were harmed by the terrorist attacks would demonstrate against the Israeli government, in an effort to halt the peace efforts.

They apparently arrived at the conclusion that this was not enough. We continued the peace negotiations, and HAMAS and the other terrorist organizations which oppose peace directed their primary effort to attacks against the Israeli population within the sovereign territory of Israel, including united Jerusalem.

Since January 1, 1994, 23 Israeli civilians, Jews and Arabs, have been killed. Twenty of them were killed within sovereign Israel, including united Jerusalem. Three were killed in the territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Members of Knesset,

It is no secret that we are very sensitive to casualties, and the HAMAS murderers are trying to break us through attacks with knives, explosive devices, shots fired from ambushes, car bombs.

They have no chance. We learned about knives in the bloody riots of the 1930s. We learned about car bombs during the War of Independence. We learned about bloodshed in buses in Ma’aleh Akrabim, in Avivim, on the coastal road the site of the most murderous terrorist attack in the history of terrorism: 35 Israelis were killed in 1978. Did any of us accuse the Begin government of having blood on its hands? Definitely not. We learned about massacres in Ma’alot, and and we learned about massacres at Lod Airport, at the Savoy Hotel, in Kfar Yuval, in Kiryat Shmona, in Misgav Am, in Nahariya. Time and again. The Israeli people did not panic, did not break. It is painful, but we recover and continue. More acts of terrorism will not halt the peace convoy.

It is with regret that I state that the extent of the threat to the security of each and every one of use has increased in the wake of the despicable massacre committed by the Jewish murderer from Hebron. Though Arab terrorism had a thousand reasons and excuses to harm us, this man came and added more.

Members of Knesset,

We have found that one of the centers of HAMAS activity is in Jordan not in Egypt, not in Tunisia, not even in Lebanon. We are convinced that the Jordanian security authorities are aware of this, but nevertheless have allowed them to carry out information and operational activities in Amman.

We have warned the Jordanian authorities against the continuation of HAMAS activity there, and we expect that King Hussein will act against the HAMAS murderers who will attempt to undermine and bring down his regime and rule as well.

We have also taken a series of measures, including imposing a stricter closure of the territories. We are aware of the suffering being caused to residents of the territories as a consequence of the closure, as well as to agriculture and building in Israel. But we have no other choice. If we wish to live, we must be stricter. And, if reality requires us to do so, we will be even stricter.

And above all, the IDF forces, the GSS, the Israel Police and Border Police officers are engaged in an all-out war against all those who continue to engage in violence and terrorism. There are no restrictions on the actions of all these forces against terrorism and violence, obviously within the framework of the law.

Members of Knesset,

The Hizbullah terrorist organization is also a partner to in the effort to destroy the chance for peace. The war in Lebanon did not eradicate terrorism there. Hizbullah is the leader in attacks on IDF and SLA forces in the security zone and, sometimes, also against targets in Israel. IDF and SLA soldiers are guaranteeing that those living in northern Israel can lead normal lives.

Members of Knesset,

From this platform, I wish to offer my heartfelt praise to IDF commanders and IDF soldiers, to the officers and members of the Israel Police and the Border Police, and particularly to the members of the GSS, who are playing a significant role in the difficult war against the murderous terrorism waged by the enemies of Israel and of peace.

Members of Knesset,

This is the present situation. The path to peace is paved with our good intentions, and with the murderous attacks of the enemies of peace. It may be even more difficult; we may not succeed in completing preventing terrorist attacks. But peace will be victorious.