25 April 2002

DM Ben-Eliezer meets with EU Ambassadors
(Communicated by the Defense Minister’s Media Adviser)

Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer met on (hursday, April 25, 2002, with the forum of European Union ambassadors posted to Israel in order to brief them on current affairs. Accompanying the Defense Minister at the briefing were the Coordinator of Activities in the Territories, Major-General Amos Gilad, and head of the IDF Intelligence Branch Research Division, Brigadier-General Yossi Kooperwasser, who each briefed the meeting in their respective fields of responsibility.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer said that the main obstacle today is the continuation of the PA’s strategy of terror. "Although operation Defensive Shield caused serious damage to the terrorist infrastructure, the continuation of the PA’s terror policy allows the rebuilding of the infrastructure, and the daily attempts to perpetrate attacks. Arafat is the only one who can stop the terror, but he is not interested in doing that. Therefore, only European pressure, and the complete rejection of the PA’s terror policies, can cause him, or other Palestinian leaders, to the negotiating table."

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer emphasized Arafat’s personal involvement and support of terrorist elements, as proven by the documents found in his office.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer said that Europe and the United States should be concerned about the relations that have been formed between senior PA elements and hostile elements in the Arab world. For instance, the passport of Fuad Shubaki, responsible for the PA’s finances, was found during the course of the operation, and the passport contained many stamps from visits to Iraq and Libya.

On the issue of Jenin, Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer said that "Israel initially agreed to cooperate with the UN fact-finding team, but it seems that their intentions have changed, and completely exceeded the mandate given to them by the Security Council resolution. We want the fact-finding team to operate according to the principles of justice, and first and foremost to examine how Jenin turned into the ‘suicide bomber capital’ from which 28 suicide bombings originated. It is also surprising that the UN did not call for an investigation after the attacks on the Dolphinarium or on Passover eve." The Defense Minister also conveyed that the Palestinians rejected, for political reasons, Israeli humanitarian assistance such as supplies of blood, ambulances, etc. despite their real need for these items.

The Coordinator of Activities in the Territories, Major-General Amos Gilad said that Israel has no intention of damaging the civilian infrastructure in the PA, but the civilian infrastructure, and Palestinian governmental installations, have sometimes been used as terror installations in which explosives and bombs have been found. In addition, Maj.-Gen. Gilad said that the PA completely ignores the economic situation in the PA and the suffering of its people for whom they are responsible.

IDF Intelligence Branch Research Division Head Brigadier-General Yossi Kooperwasser explained the central findings of the operation, including documents and correspondence that connect, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the PA, and Arafat personally, to the operation of terror elements, and show the unwillingness of the PA, and its leader, to stop using the strategy of terror.