FM Peres’ Meeting with the Quartet

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)
17 September 2002

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres stated today (17 Sept) in New York that the greatest problem now is security, while the most promising development is the democratic public discourse taking place among the Palestinians, which Israel is following with both interest and hope. "We do not wish to remain in the territories," Peres said. "our desire is to leave immediately – and if that is impossible due to security considerations, then we’ll leave gradually."

Foreign Minister Peres welcomed US Secretary of State Powell’s announcement regarding the beginning of Palestinian security training in Jericho, stating that Israel has requested to press forward with the security issue, in order to enable the early withdrawal of Israeli forces.

Regarding humanitarian issues, Mr. Peres stated that there is no disagreement between Israel and the Quartet on the subject, and that no matter is too small for consideration. "We are not fighting the Palestinian people," Peres added, "we are fighting terrorism, which is also the enemy of the Palestinians."

With regard to the statement made by Palestinian Authority representative Nabil Sha’ath at the meeting, Minister Peres said that Israel will release all of the funds to the PA if the Authority implements the proposals introduced by PA Finance Minister Fayad. Mr. Peres added that if the Palestinians would arrest terrorist suspects, there would be no Israeli targeted counter-terror operations. In addition, he stated to Mr. Sha’ath that his proposal of a cease fire in two phases – first ending the murder of civilians and only afterwards implementing a comprehensive cease-fire – is not appropriate for consideration, since it means that in the first phase, the killing of all others is permitted.

UN Secretary of State Kofi Annan stated that the Quartet supports the appointment of a Palestinian prime minister and the declaration of a Palestinian state with provisional borders, which will enhance security.