FM Peres addresses Conference of Presidents

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)
February 20, 2002

Addressing the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations on the opening day of their Leadership Mission (Wednesday, 20 February), Foreign Minister Shimon Peres stated that Israel must take four steps simultaneously:

  • Military measures against terrorism
  • Renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian security coordination
  • Genuine economic relief for the residents of the territories
  • A continuation of the political dialogue

    The Foreign Minister criticized "those who call for an immediate resolution" and demanded that they "stop talking in slogans and instead present a practical plan detailing how to achieve their ends while retaining their moral standards."

    In answer to a question concerning Arafat’s relevance, Peres said that analyzing Arafat’s character and psychological state has become a national sport and does not contribute to the war on terrorism. Peres added that it is impossible to fight an entire people:

    "Who are we going to fight – women and children? We cannot keep the Palestinians in a state of hunger and poverty. It is true that we have good cause – security – but where does it lead? You can kill a terrorist and, in doing so, cause others to support terrorism."

    Peres further stated that Israel must make a serious effort to ease the situation of the Palestinian population." We cannot turn our backs and say ‘I hear nothing, I see nothing.’"

    In conclusion, Peres stated that for Israel, one thing is clear: We must not fail and we must not despair.