7 March 2002

DM Ben-Eliezer Meets Foreign Ambassadors to Israel
(Communicated by the Defense Minister’s Media Adviser)

Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer met on Thursday, March 7, 2002, at Beit Berl, with foreign ambassadors serving in Israel.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer said that Israel is currently in the midst of a widespread operation against terror. "Our sole aim is, in the first stage to strike at terror, and in the second stage to achieve a cease-fire." The Defense Minister emphasized: "We have no intention of occupying PA territory, to topple the PA or to harm the leader of the PA. The terror can only stop when Arafat will decide to stop it."

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer said that he is striving to bring the sides into a dynamic of direct dialogue, based on the outline of the Tenet and Mitchell plans, that will act as a passageway to the diplomatic negotiating stage. Israel, on its part, will exhibit maximum flexibility when it reaches the negotiating stage. Israel and the Palestinians are the only ones that can resolve the conflict, and there is no replacement for direct dialogue.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer further said, "The moment European football’s governing body, UEFA, ordered that games no longer take place in Israel but rather at neutral venues – this is a surrender to terror, and surrendering to terror is a guaranteed prescription for an increase in terror. That is exactly the terrorists’ goal – to sow fear and disrupt our way of life." The Defense Minister emphasized that governments that are interested in fighting terror must contribute and use their influence so that the Milan – Hapoel Tel Aviv game can take place in Israel, as did all the previous games.