Interview with Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh
CBS "The Early Show", Wednesday, July 26, 2000

BRYANT GUMBEL: In terms of the concessions that were offered and what’s acceptable to the Israeli people, was this the Palestinians’ best chance for peace — was this it? Has it come and gone?

MR. SNEH: Well, as you mentioned, Prime Minister Barak went to the direction of the Palestinian positions, the longest range Israel leader ever made. And I’m afraid it will be very disappointing for the Palestinians in the future if they think that through other means they can achieve more. Barak went to the maximum that he can go as far as the support of the Israeli people is concerned.

GUMBEL: Mr. Erekat, who you also heard, sounded optimistic that an agreement could still be reached by September 13. Do you share his optimism?

MR. SNEH: You know, in our region, we don’t have the privilege to be pessimistic. We must be optimistic. I share with him the belief that if the negotiations are resumed and there is a more constructive — more realistic, I will say — approach of the Palestinian side, I believe we can strike a deal. It’s feasible. And I believe it can be done. I hope no other circle or round of clashes between Israelis and Palestinians would occur in the meantime. It’s something which is very important to prevent. I believe that by the end of the year, we may reach an agreement.

GUMBEL: As you well know, there are already calls for a new jihad. How do you view the likelihood of increased violence?

MR. SNEH: Well, as you know, on our part, we are doing our utmost in that the tension would be reduced to minimum, not to provoke — to ease the tension and if something happens, to contain it as early as possible. I hope this would be the attitude of the Palestinian Authority as well. If both sides would do their utmost to prevent an eruption of violence, we can prevent it. And then it would be easier to negotiate again.

GUMBEL: If Mr. Arafat proceeds with his plan to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state on September 13th, how will Israel respond?

MR. SNEH: You know, when one side takes a unilateral step, the other side will follow, and it’s a bad exchange — instead of dialogue, taking unilateral steps. This is not what I advise Chairman Arafat to do. It would be very counterproductive.

END    

 CBS Interview with Deputy Defense Minister Sneh-July 26- 2000
 CBS Interview with Deputy Defense Minister Sneh-July 26- 2000
The Camp David Summit – July 2000