1 February 2000

PM Barak: Attacks Make Peace Negotiations Difficult

(Communicated by the Defense Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed, yesterday (Monday) 31.1.2000, his sorrow over the loss of three IDF soldiers and the wounding of three others and – on behalf of the government – sends his condolences to the bereaved families and his best wishes for a quick recovery to the three wounded soldiers.

Prime Minister and Defense Minister Barak has, over the last several days, received regular reports and updates on the situation on the northern border and is assessing the situation with the Cabinet, IDF Chief-of-Staff and senior IDF and security establishment officials. He noted that, in the past several days, there has been a serious escalation in terrorist activity in southern Lebanon and added that Israel is not prepared to countenance continued escalation. The Prime Minister said that as in the past, Israel will know how to respond at a time and place of its choosing.

"Just as I committed myself to the Israeli people, the Government intends to withdraw the IDF from Lebanon in an agreed-upon arrangement as soon as possible, anyone who dares attack the IDF, SLA or our northern communities will pay a heavy price," Prime Minister Barak said.

Prime Minister Barak said that the Government will be unable to negotiate peace if the Syrians do not restrain Hizballah from acting against the IDF and the security zone; the absence of a climate for peace will make the conduct of negotiations for peace with Syria more difficult.