Reaction by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to US Secretary of State Powell’s Novemeber 19 Policy Speech

Israel Television, November 19, 2001

Q: Mr. Peres, what is your opinion of Mr. Powell’s speech?

FM Peres: It is a speech of utmost importance. It contains vision, it contains policy, and it also contains commitment on the part of the United States of America. Three things – one cannot resolve all the problems in a single speech.

Q: Mr. Peres, when Colin Powell talks about the end of the occupation, does he mean a return to the ’67 borders?

FM Peres: He is referring to the accepted formulation, which is Security Council resolutions 338 and 242. This has always been the formula. Indeed, this does not constitute anything new. However, first and foremost, from our perspective, there is a very emotional commitment concerning the relations between America and Israel, a commitment to the security of Israel, an uncompromising position on the issue of ending terrorism, an uncompromising attitude on the issue of security, and there is one additional fresh element – that the Palestinians must recognize Israel as the Jewish state. One could perceive here an American hint concerning the right of return.

On the other hand, of course, he speaks about a halt to settlement building. Incidentally, we have made a commitment not to establish new settlements and, therefore, there was no need for him to repeat this, since this is the present position of the Israeli government. It [the statement on settlements] does not constitute a change of any kind, and we have said as much to Powell.

I must add that he also spoke with considerable emotion about the issue of occupation. We are also conscious of this matter, and we certainly wish to alleviate the conditions in the territories. He spoke about the issue of monitors, although, as I understand it, he has stated that this requires the agreement of both parties. He spoke about cooperation with Europe and with other states, but he also stated that America will be considerably more active in this regard.

Q: Yesterday, Prime Minister Sharon stated in his meeting with the EU Presidency that he stands by the prerequisite of seven days of calm, prior to starting the implementation of the Mitchell Report. In your opinion, does Mr. Powell support the position of the Prime Minister?

FM Peres: Mr. Powell neither supported nor rejected it. But he did say that a one hundred percent effort [to acheive calm] was required – this is the language that he used – and he stated that the Palestinians are not fulfilling this. Therefore, at this moment, this is a theoretical argument, because whether there are seven days of quiet as a result of a one hundred percent effort, or there are one hundred percent results – this should only be the case. Although there has indeed been a considerable reduction in terrorist attacks, this is due for the most part to the efforts of the Israel Defense Forces.

Q: Is it possible that Powell’s speech will have an influence on Arafat?

FM Peres: I do not know if the speech will have an influence. Arafat is also in a particularly difficult situation. He more or less has said that for a year now, the Palestinians have been mired in the mud…in this ‘intifada’. The truth is that the time has come. After all, a speech does not change a situation – a speech reflects a situation, and also presents a vision. All in all, from a Palestinian perspective, the ‘Intifada’ has been a great disappointment. We also hear the Palestinian voices around us. I believe Arafat has been saying that on the one hand, there are many problems, but, on the other hand, a very important opportunity has presented itself, especially as the gaps [between the parties] have become narrower. An example of this is the issue of two states living side by side. A year ago this would have disturbed most of Israeli public opinion.

 Reaction by FM Peres to US Secretary of State Powell-s Novemeber 19 Policy Speech-19-Nov-2001
 Reaction by FM Peres to US Secretary of State Powell-s Novemeber 19 Policy Speech-19-Nov-2001
Foreign Policy Address by Secretary of State Powell, University of Louisville, Kentucky – Nov 19, 2001