10 May 2002

DM Ben-Eliezer comments on resolution of events at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem
(Communicated by the Defense Minister’s Media Adviser)

Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer today (Friday), May 10, 2002, expressed his satisfaction over the conclusion of events at the Church of the Nativity in which all the fugitives who were involved in terror were either exiled abroad or expelled to the Gaza Strip, while committing themselves not to engage in terror.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer ordered the IDF to redeploy outside the Bethlehem area following the implementation of the agreement.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer regrets the severe blow which the Palestinian terrorists inflicted on the sanctity of the Church of the Nativity, including the destruction of holy objects, injuring members of the clergy and holding innocent people hostage, and believes that the international community must vigorously condemn these actions which contravene international moral and religious values.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer stresses that upon the conclusion of the IDF’s withdrawal from the Palestinian Authority areas that it took control of during Operation Defensive Shield in order to strike at the infrastructures of terror, the PA has no pretext to avoid assuming responsibility for a halt to terror and a cease-fire.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer thanks the countries which contributed towards resolving the situation at the Church of the Nativity, especially the US, the EU and Cyprus.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer emphasizes that the IDF and the security establishment will continue to take all necessary measures to foil terrorist attacks and protect the citizens of the State of Israel.