Foreign Minister Peres meets with Diplomatic Corps

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Media Advisor)
December 3, 2001

"The crisis is very serious and time is very short," Minister Peres told the foreign ambassadors at an emergency meeting convened yesterday evening (2 December) in Tel Aviv.

Peres said that this crisis is perhaps the most serious that has yet occurred between Israel and the Palestinians. In four days, there have been 6 terrorist attacks, leaving 40 dead and more than 200 wounded. This, he stated, despite Israeli efforts to ease the travel restrictions for Palestinians, withdraw Israeli forces from Palestinian towns, bring about a ceasefire and help further US peace envoy Zinni’s mission and the informal contacts with the Palestinians.

According to Peres, Israelis are deeply disappointed. The Palestinian Authority has employed words rather than deeds, and has failed to fulfill its obligations. The PA arrests of terrorist leaders have been nothing but a farce and, in the West Bank and Gaza, shooting games have taken the place of a responsible administration. The suicide bombers, Peres added, are forcing Israel to resort to actions that it would prefer not to take, in order to protect its citizens.

The United States, Europe, Russia and others have approached Arafat, and now the acid test of his intentions will be the actions and measures he chooses to take. This must be done quickly, said Peres, before we get to a point of no return.

A senior Israeli military intelligence officer who participated in the meeting with the ambassadors stated that real, serious arrests of terrorist suspects have yet to be carried out.

They have made us promises, he commented, with no intention of keeping them. Despite the PA declaration of a state of emergency, terrorist organizations will attempt to carry out more acts of terror against Israel in the next few days, he added.

The senior officer added that Israel has provided the Palestinians with lists of terrorist leaders many times before, but that so far no action has been taken against them.