Subject: Rightwing Demonstrations and the Peace Negotiations.
David Gilboa: (speaking with FM Peres at Taba). Shalom.
FM Peres: Shalom.
Gilboa: Our political correspondent Shlomo Raz, also in Taba, is with us on the air. Mr. Peres I want to ask you first regarding what happened on our country’s highways in the afternoon and evening. Were you surprised by the success of the settlers yesterday?
FM Peres: What did they succeed in doing, in angering the entire public?
Gilboa: Perhaps in disrupting the State’s life for an hour or two.
FM Peres: That’s success?
Gilboa: It was their goal.
FM Peres: Is that an achievement? Is it a goal? Is this a state within a state? I must say I wonder at your question. I think they made a mistake, I think one doesn’t behave like this in a democratic state, and I do not think it will influence the carrying out of the will of the majority in the Knesset.
Gilboa: That is precisely their argument; after all, they claim the government has no majority, neither in the Knesset nor among the public.
FM Peres: Just a moment are they the State Comptroller? Are they the Knesset? Are they a majority in the Knesset? Are they Supreme Court justices? I altogether do not understand this matter are there two Knessets? Two parliaments? One in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and one in Jerusalem? This is not acceptable to me. There is one Knesset, and in the Knesset votes are counted, not evaluated, or weighed. Time after time, they have tried to pass a non-confidence vote, and it has failed.
Gilboa: Nevertheless, the Prime Minister is making efforts to talk to the leaders of the settlers, and is speaking with them.
FM Peres: We are not angry with Israel’s citizens, but that does not mean that, as a result of speaking with them I don’t know what this dialogue is; it’s possible to speak about subjects concerning the settlers or their settlements but whether there is a need for a referendum or not, that should be determined by Judea, Samaria and Gaza [settlers]? Absolutely not! Are negotiations to be conducted, or not will a group who were never elected for that purpose, determine that? A group that’s not a political party, that does not operate in the Knesset, but outside it, on the highways. What do we really want a state where, one time, there are votes in the Knesset, another time lying down on highways? What kind of thing is this? Where is it customary? We, ourselves, through great confusion and misunderstanding, could destroy the democratic regime. There is no such thing; to conduct policy, one raises one’s [voting] hand in the Knesset, one does not lie in the roadway. They are two different things.
Shlomo Raz: Perhaps it was a mistake to announce already now that all the settlements remain in
FM Peres: Why was it a mistake? It’s the truth. First of all, what do you want? That I should say an untrue thing? Altogether, there is a basic misunderstanding here. I saw headlines in today’s papers that we agreed to withdraw from most of the West Bank. To withdraw altogether or to change sovereignty that’s a matter for negotiations on the permanent settlement. Today, we are not speaking of dividing sovereignty, of a ceding of sovereignty, or of annexing territories, absolutely not. Today, we are speaking of redeployment in the West Bank, in accordance with the Declaration of Principles, and this deployment has two parts: one relates to the area, and that, in reality, is not the area but the population, the populated area from which the Israel Defense Forces will be evacuated, which is a certain part of the territory. Regarding the rest of the territory, most of it, on that, no maps have been drawn, but a timetable has been prepared. That is to say, we shall complete the deployement for the interim settlement, not the permanent-status settlement, within a year and a half, let’s say in moves every six months. Specific areas have not been determined, where, how, nothing, absolutely not. We have already said previously we shall complete this redeployment by the middle of 1997, and that’s what will be.
Raz: But, ultimately, when the I.D.F. completes the third stage in the middle of 1997, I understand it will not be present in most of the territory…
FM Peres: How do you understand that?
Raz: I’m asking.
FM Peres: No, not so. We have not discussed where the I.D.F. will remain and from where it will redeploy, there is no map.
Gilboa: Mr. Peres, these events of yesterday, how in your view can they if at all influence the negotiations between Israel and ?
FM Peres: They will in no way influence the negotiations. Woe to us if they influence the negotiations. I want to tell you this: We’d have to say that we were obeying the settlers, ending the negotiations and going home well, what would happen then? Obviously, two things would happen: the intifada would be renewed, and certainly the demographic relationship would continue, until our entire state would wake up one fine morning and find out that perhaps we retain territory but lost our [population] majority. After all, you can’t just have discussions every morning according to your mood. Why are we doing what we’re doing? For moral reasons, because we do not want to rule over another people. And for political reasons, for we do not want to lose our [demographic] majority in this land. These are fundamental facts for the settlers and all those who oppose us. There is no alternative program, no notion or concept in what they are proposing, just as previously they were intransigeant over Gaza. Why did we stay in Gaza for 26 years? For what? No one knows how to explain that today it just seems ludicrous.
Gilboa: But aren’t there Israeli settlements in Gaza?
FM Peres: So they’ll stay and two of them at least are in a very difficult situation. But I want to clarify again: the final frontiers will be established only in the final-status settlement. There is no change in sovereignty and there won’t be any change in sovereignty in the negotiations on the interim settlement. What there is in the interim settlement is two I.D.F. redeployments, one from populated areas to enable them to hold elections, and another to complete the autonomy. Regarding the first redeployment, there are Zones A and B, which are a certain part of the map, not all that large. As for the rest, no maps have been determined, nor will they be until we enter negotiations. What we’ve said concerns time-periods, which have their own logic. For, after all, in May 1996, according to our commitment, we must discuss the final settlement; then we shall discuss where we stay, where we won’t remain.
Raz: I’d still like to ask you about the interim settlement, because you mentioned concrete details of this negotiation; when will it end, when will the signing ceremony take place?
FM Peres: Look, there are not a few gaps [differences] between us. We are working very hard and you know what’s happening. Let me tell you this rather frankly, I think our public in the country also needs to know, the Israeli team is not talking to the press. Whatever is published in the press comes from the Palestinian team, and a really strange situation is being created here. I read this morning’s papers in Israel; note who gave the information not we, because to the best of my understanding when there is a negotiation we should not undertake it in public. But I must also warn the public, or you must warn the public, that the information handed out is one-sided, from the Palestinian team, and incidentally a large part of it is from people who are not even present at the talks. I saw some names of those supplying the information, and it was people who were not there during the negotiations; and thus a picture is being created here that is definitely not correct.
Gilboa: No date yet for signing?
FM Peres: No, none.
Gilboa: Thank you.