Jerusalem, September 7, 1997

CABINET COMMUNIQUE

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 7.9.97:

1. The Cabinet was briefed by the Defense Minister, Chief-of-Staff, OC Navy, and the Director of the IDF Intelligence Branch on the events in Lebanon.

2. The Prime Minister referred to the events in Lebanon and the public discussion which has developed in its wake.

The Prime Minister said that we are passing through difficult moments. Within one week, there were two mishaps in Lebanon which claimed a heavy price among the very best of our soldiers. The peace and security of our soldiers in Lebanon is as equally dear to all of us. On this issue, we are all one family. We all want to leave Lebanon under the appropriate conditions, but the rash statements about a hasty departure from Lebanon under pressure, only encourage Hizballah and its cohorts like fuel in the engines of Hizballah’s rockets.

I have demanded that government ministers hold firm to government decisions. The question of the conditions for a departure from Lebanon and how to achieve it, is a question which must be clarified in the cabinet and not in public. I also request that all members of the government show solidarity. None of us is more sensitive to bereavement or is more concerned about security. We must close ranks before the public. There are no easy solutions here. We must prevent a situation in which bombs explode in the communities along the northern border. We give full backing to the IDF and the security establishment, which will carry out the necessary checks within themselves.

3. The Cabinet was briefed by the Public Security Minister, the Israel Police Inspector-General, Israel Police officers, the Director of the GSS and the Director of the IDF Intelligence Branch on the latest attack in Jerusalem.

4. The Prime Minister spoke on the current situation in relations between Israel and the Palestinians. He said that he had predicted at the time that the agreement signed by the previous government would lead to the creation of safe havens for terrorists adjoining our own communities and to his great regret we have witnessed the practical realization of this. The same opposition spokesmen who speak of the last 15 months, themselves made the agreement which created the reality of terrorist bases in the Palestinian Autonomous area. The people who created that situation would do better to remain silent, and not try to pass the responsibility on to the current government. On the day that the new administration was established, we said that if the other side respects the agereements, so would Israel. What has happened in practice is that the Palestinian side has not fulfilled its obligations they have not annulled the Palestinian Covenant, they have not extradited murderers, they have not kept to their demarcated areas in Hebron, and are neither preventing terrorist attacks, nor are fighting the terrorist infrastructure. This is far more serious than the simple absence of fighting against terrorism.

The essential formula conceived by the previous government, whereby we would transfer territory to the Palestinians, and they would fight terrorism, has not been realized. At a time when the Palestinian Authority is not fulfilling its obligations, we are not prepared to transfer additional territory to them, which would then be used to establish more terrorist bases. It must be made clear that on the basis of such clear violations on the part of the Palestinian Authority, and for as long as they fail to live up to their commitments, Israel will not be able to follow the normal course of the Interim Agreement, involving the transfer of further territories to the Palestinians. If it becomes clear that the Palestinian Authority has decided to wage a real war on terrorism, we must negotiate on the permanent status agreement, which will include appropriate security arrangements.