SAVIR INTERVIEW ON NEGOTIATIONS WITH PALESTINIANS

April 8, 1994

Following are excerpts of an interview with Foreign Ministry Director- General Uri Savir on Israel TV’s ‘Mosaf HaMosafim’ program of 8.4.94:

Q: What is written on your daily calendar for Wednesday, 13 April?

Savir: Memorial Day (for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers).

Q: Is anything written there regarding the peace treaty?

Savir: No. We are experienced enough to know that it is impossible to plan anything, certainly not for that day. The Declaration of Principles was supposed to enter into effect regarding Gaza and Jericho seven months after the DOP was signed. No one knew on what day that would fall. Unfortunately, we have not yet reached that point.

Q: Do you believe that it will be completed on the 13th [of April]?

Savir: No. I think that there is still some distance left to be covered. I think that there are more issues which must be worked out. I think that the Palestinians made a mistake by halting the negotiations, and now we must make up for lost time. We must move forward and change the reality that has become even more difficult in recent days.

Q: If we talk about a reality which has become even more difficult, then after the attack in Afula, people here really expected Yasser Arafat to say something. Why did he remain silent?

Savir: It is not my job to explain him. I think that he is making a mistake. I think that it is also a mistake to expect him to have a special type of humanity. He was chosen to be a partner because he can make decisions regarding the Palestinians. We can reach a new reality with him. We could wait until there is a different Yasser Arafat according to our moral standards, but that is not the point. The point is to reach an agreement, to know how to implement it, and he is currently the only person among the Palestinians who is capable of [accomplishing] this.

Q: That is exactly the question which many people are asking; is he at all capable isn’t Hamas undermining his power all the time?

Savir: Hamas is indeed on a murderous offensive. It continues, and will in future continue, to try to use terrorism, both against Israelis and, perhaps, against Palestinians as well. Why is it in such a situation? Because the tide of history is against it. Hamas did not want an arrangement, it did not want a Declaration of Principles, it did not want Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, it did not want compromise. They sit in some dim, dark corner and say: How can we destroy this agreement? Arafat, if he wants to survive, must stand up against this. From this standpoint, we have a common interest in opposing Hamas.

Q: The dramatic events occurring outside, murder how does this effect what goes on inside the room in which the [sides] sit, face to face, and negotiate?

Savir: I think that it influences emotions, it influences the people; [but] it must not influence the negotiations from the standpoint that a basic decision has been made not to apply another band-aid because of a certain incident, and not to take another aspirin because of a certain situation [which crops up] … rather, the matter must be dealt with at the root level. The root of the matter is that we do not need to be in Gaza; that we need to try [to achieve] security for Israel and that the Palestinians should run their own lives. There will be less frustration [in Gaza]. Slowly and it will take a great deal of time there will also be less violence. Whoever leaves the main road, and takes a side path because of certain feelings, in effect moves backward…

Q: So what happens in moments such as these? [The negotiators] enter [the room] after the massacre in Hebron…

Savir: O.K., there they stopped the talks and, in my opinion, it was a mistake; a lot of time was lost from the standpoint of their interest. The question which each side must ask itself is: Do I, because of violence, do something that will hurt myself? Should I give Hamas a victory? There are moments of tension. Of course it influences the atmosphere, just as achievements in the negotiations influence the atmosphere… If you want to make peace, you must understand the concerns of the other side, and they must begin to understand our concerns, and all must remain steadfast in their support of the Declaration of Principles in order to bring about a real change in the situation.