18 March 2002

DM Ben-Eliezer meets French Senate Foreign Afairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee – Mar 18, 2002
(Communicated by the Defense Minister’s Media Adviser)

Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer met today (Monday), March 18, 2002, with the French Senate Foreign Affairs, Defense and Armed Forces Committee headed by Committee President Xavier de Villepin.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer updated the delegation on the latest steps surrounding the mission of US envoy General (ret.) Anthony Zinni, and the effort to achieve a cease-fire and enter the Tenet and Mitchell track.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer emphasized Israel’s desire to achieve quiet, and an end to attacks and terror on the one hand, and its utter lack of desire to stay in "A" areas except for the purpose of preventing terror attacks, on the other hand.

"When the Palestinians take responsibility for the ‘A’ areas occupied by the IDF, our forces will withdraw immediately, and there was positive movement in this direction in last night’s joint security discussions," Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer said.

Furthermore, Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer emphasized Israel’s expectations that Europe will put political and diplomatic pressure on Arafat to abandon the path of violence and terror, and begin a process of calm and cease-fire.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer emphasized that Europe does not need to take the role of judge, but should rather aid the parties in entering the Tenet and Mitchell process which will lead to diplomatic negotiations. "A large majority in Israel is ready for a diplomatic process that will include wide-ranging concessions, but only in return for full security."