RABIN AND MUBARAK PRESS CONFERENCE

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s spokesman)

FOLLOWING ARE EXCERPTS FROM THE PRESS CONFERENCE GIVEN ON SUNDAY, JULY 31, 1994, BY PRIME MINISTER YITZHAK RABIN AND EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT HOSNI MUBARAK IN TABA:

RABIN: (…) We more than thank the President of Egypt for hosting and helping in advancing the negotiations with the Palestinians for the future. We are now after the signing of the Washington Declaration, which is a major step toward peace with Jordan, and bringing the negotiations between Jordan and Israel to the area at this stage, in the Arava, at the border there with Jordan; hopefully, once on the Jordanian side and once on the Israeli side.

I see, in the movement that has taken place and is taking place between us and the Palestinians, separately with the Jordanians an effort to start to build a comprehensive peace between us and all the additional three neighboring Arab countries and the Palestinians.

We still hope that there will be a move on the Syrian-Israeli side. Israel wants peace with Syria, and we are ready to understand that there will be certain requirements for us. And I hope that there will be a change as a result of what has happened with the Palestinians and with the Jordanians on the Syrian side. And we are waiting now for another visit by the Secretary of State of the United States that will no doubt assist, on the Syrian side and also on the Jordanian side.

We also discussed some of the bilateral issues (…).

Q (to Mubarak): Do you intend to visit Israel for the first time and when?

MUBARAK: I think that I have received this question several times and I have said, each time, I have no sensitivity to visit Israel. We discussed this with the Prime Minister and I will visit in a certain time. (…) I have no objection [to visiting this year], but I cannot tell you exactly now. (…) I am willing to visit Israel. (…)

Q (to Rabin): What is the main problem preventing similar progress with Syria in the peace process?

RABIN: First, Syria has to do something in its public diplomacy that will bring the people of Israel to be convinced that Syria is eager to have peace. I’ll give an example: President Sadat came to Jerusalem; believe me, he broke down all the walls between Egypt and Israel by the mere fact that he came there. Even without signing a peace treaty, (…) the President of the United States, the King of Jordan and myself shook hands and were together openly. We haven’t seen anything of this kind even on a smaller scale by Syria. I was told that Syrian television showed part of the signing ceremony of the Washington Declaration; it might be the beginning of a sign. I believe that peace has to be made, not only between leaders leaders lead but between peoples; peoples, on both sides, have to be convinced that there is a change of attitude from animosity to more friendship. (…)

Q (to Rabin): What about your position on Jerusalem?

RABIN: We are committed, by signing the Declaration of Principles with the Palestinians in Washington, to negotiate the issue of Jerusalem but it will be done, in accordance with the Declaration of Principles, not later than two years after the completed implementation of ‘Gaza-Jericho first’. It will be part of the negotiations on the permanent solution. We and the Palestinians have conflicting positions: We believe that Jerusalem must remain united under Israeli sovereignty, where we must give free access and practice to the members of other religions Christians and Moslems. The Palestinians have an entirely different position. We decided, at this stage, not to negotiate [over Jerusalem]. (…)

Q (to Rabin): What are your expectations concerning the prospects for peace between Syria, Lebanon and Israel (…)?

RABIN: Well I am not a prophet; I am only a prime minister. Therefore, I can tell you about Israel’s policy and what we are trying to achieve. We want to negotiate seriously with Syria. I don’t believe that we would have reached an agreement with Egypt 16 years ago without direct contacts. We would not have achieved an agreement with the PLO without direct and quiet [contacts]. We would not have achieved what was achieved with Jordan without direct and quiet contacts. We would like to see the beginning of a change on the Syrian side toward this as well.

Q (to Rabin): in Arabic

RABIN: (…) In every negotiation, there are opposing positions. The present Government in Israel, of which I am privileged to be Prime Minister, is the first Government of Israel to make it clear that it is ready for a withdrawal on the Golan Heights. No Government in the past made it public or made this its policy. I will not define lines before I know what I will get in return and, since you cannot commit Syria, I do not see any reason to negotiate with any newspaper-man or broadcaster because the matter is not peace with the media, but peace between us and Syria.

(…) We have to judge [Syrian intent] through meaningful negotiations on the elements that are needed to reach an agreement that will materialize hopes, expectations and feelings.

Q (to Rabin): What is your view of the Palestinians now?

RABIN: We have now, in practice, been negotiating in Cairo over the past two weeks on the early empowerment and the question of elections. What worries me not only for the future steps, but for the present situation in Gaza and Jericho is the inability of the donor countries and the Palestinians, the PLO and the PA, to achieve (…) an accountable system into which $400-500 million can be pushed for economic and social development, for maintenance of the administration and the police. This is what worries me because, if any diplomatic move or agreement is not translated into the life of the people, it will serve as a setback in the long-run. (…)