Israel Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Swedish Prime Minister and EU President Goran Persson and EU High Representative Javier Solana following their meeting
Jerusalem, June 10, 2001
PM Persson: … There is a new situation of united world opinion supporting the Mitchell Report, and also supporting the ceasefire, expressing support for what Chairman Arafat has done in announcing the ceasefire, and also expressing support for what the Israeli government did, not retaliating for the horrible terrorist attack a little bit more than a week ago – expressing from both sides a willingness to go ahead and try to find a possibility to come back to the process that can lead to peace and reconciliation.
But for us, it’s extremely clear: ceasefire, no violence, support for the Mitchell Report, and then, of course, presence in the region, having a political dialogue with all partners.
Q: (on the Tenet report)
FM Peres: I was asked about the Tenet report, and I answered that this is the best bet for the two parties. The test will be in the actions, not in the words. I think it is important for Arafat and for us to really take care of the developments on the ground. Tenet suggests a track, we – the Palestinians and ourselves – have to suggest a record.
Q: (on the death of 3 Palestinian women in Gaza; international observers)
FM Peres: I regret it very much. I think wars create many mistakes, but the greatest mistake is war itself. In the middle of tranquility, we would not face these terrible losses of life which I regret very much.
I think the problem is not of observers, I think the problem is of observing the agreed understandings, and I think the two parties can contribute the most to achieving it.
Q: (on the Mitchell Report)
FM Peres: I told Prime Minister Persson that Israel accepted the Mitchell Report fully. He didn’t ask for any change in letter, in spirit, and I think this is a good enough answer at this stage of the negotiations.
I think that the fact that the Mitchell Report was a European- American product, which created so much trust and so much hope, and I think that an international position, where the European Union and the United States of America would be the main players is the best bet for the Middle East to come back to the area of peace. I believe that whatever can be achieved politically and internationally is preferable to whatever can be done militarily and nationally.
Q: (on the role of the EU)
Solana: Let me try to clarify exactly what is going on. The European Union is try to help the ceasefire – which is our obligation. The European Union has accepted the Mitchell Report in all its paragraphs, and I have written some of the paragraphs of the Mitchell Report. So we are not trying to do something which is not agreed by the parties. Therefore, what we are trying to do is to help the ceasefire to be implemented, implemented fully, and that is the only thing we are trying to do. Don’t think that we have deployed a battalion of people – there are three or four people now on the ground. So please let’s put things in proportion, and in all the places where these people have been present, I think the situation on the ground, as far as the ceasefire is concerned, has been better.
PM Persson: I don’t think we’ll take the lead role. I think we, together with others, the US, perhaps, also Russia, perhaps the United Nations, will be firm supporters to the partners in the region, firm supporters to those who want to go ahead implementing the Mitchell Report. We don’t need to compete with the US. We don’t want to replace the US. We want to stick together with the US in supporting all constructive forces in this region, and they are many, because they realize that there is only one way back to peace and reconciliation, and that is to stick to the Mitchell Report, and be extremely careful about the ceasefire.
Q: Could you explain your perception of how the timetable should work from now, and perhaps you would care to address the issue of settlement building and how that fits into the Mitchell Committee timetable. Israel is saying first there should be the ceasefire, and then we come to the settlements, the Palestinians say: no, it all must happen at the same time.
PM Persson: If I now publicly start a discussion about timetable, I will immediately confuse the important focus on the ceasefire. So let’s stick now to the ceasefire, support those who are really making it come true, and also see to it that the developments in the region underpin the ceasefire. If that works, then we can come back to discussions about the timetable. To start the discussion about timetables publicly now would only, I think, confuse the debate and create new problems.
Solana: As the Prime Minister has just said, the most important thing is that we have a ceasefire that is doable, that is taken seriously by both sides. Once that is achieved, we have the possibility of going on with the next steps of the Report, with the recommendations of the Report. These recommendations are linked to confidence-building measures. We hope very much that we can reach the stage of confidence-building measures as soon as possible. That would mean that the ceasefire is completed, and that the climate is suitable to have confidence-building measures. And among the confidence-building measures there will be, no doubt, the question of settlements.