Excerpts from Interview with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom on Israel Radio
June 29, 2003

1. The Terrorist ‘Cease-Fire’

"We are not part of the cease-fire being formulated between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the terrorist organizations. Therefore, all of the demands which it contains cannot be applied to Israel, since it is not a party to the agreement."

"We have stated on a number of occasions that, from our perspective, a ‘cease-fire’ cannot constitute a long range goal in itself. This position has been adopted by the United States as well."

2. The Need to Dismantle the Terrorist Infrastructure

"As President Bush clearly stated last week, declarations alone are not enough, genuine action is required to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure."

"The requirement to dismantle the terrorist groups, confiscate the weapons, arrest terrorist suspects and stop the incitement is not merely an Israeli whim. It is a clear and unequivocal commitment which the Palestinians took upon themselves by accepting the Road Map."

3. The Palestinian Record of Non-Compliance

"This Palestinian commitment [to confront terrorism] is one of many such obligations which they took upon themselves in the last decade, as part of every agreement which was signed in the past. So it was in the Oslo Accords, in which they first promised to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, and in the Hebron Agreement (1/1997), the Wye Agreement (10/1998) and the Camp David Summit Statement (7/2000). Yet this commitment was never implemented, since the Palestinian leadership was unwilling to take the strategic decision to actually carry it out."

"We will not tolerate a situation in which the Israeli commitments will be carried out, yet the Palestinian commitments will remain unfulfilled."

"Only once in the past have the Palestinians taken action against terrorism, this following the terrorist attacks of March 1998. That was the one and only time in which Arafat took armed action against the Hamas. He arrested a thousand people, 18 were killed, and weapons were confiscated. But soon thereafter, those arrested were released. Consequently we are now requiring that such action be taken, not temporarily, but over a long term."

4. Israeli Implementation of its Obligations

"We have already begun to fulfill our commitments. We have begun to release prisoners and we’ve begun to deal with the unauthorized outposts. We are also beginning to implement the Israeli pull-back. In addition, we have issued more work permits for Palestinians laborers and authorizations for overnight stays, extended the fishing zone off the Gaza coast, and expanded freedom of movement."

"We have implemented a wide range of measures, meant to fulfill two functions – firstly, to improve conditions for the Palestinian population through these measures, and secondly, to bring the Palestinians to fulfill their commitment to put an end to terrorism in order to improve living conditions for us."

Regarding the release of prisoners, we spoke very unambiguously about the steps we plan to take. Cleary, however, these steps must be taken while considering their security ramifications. We will carry this out, as indeed it has been assessed that there is presently no negative security impact."

"We would like to implement a number of measures to benefit the Palestinian population – such steps are very important. Yet, concurrently, the PA must take an historic and strategic decision to confront terrorism."

"If the commitments are fulfilled concurrently, this will enable us to move forward. But if this is not done, there will be no chance that the process will progress to its next phases."

5. The Security Fence

"We feel that the security fence can add to our safety, in that it prevents the terrorists from infiltrating and attacking deep within Israel, as they can in the absence of such a barrier. Consequently, we will continue in its construction."

6. Syria

"Syria is in the same situation as the Palestinians. We have stated that we cannot move forward in the peace process as long as terrorism continues, and as long as the necessary steps are not taken to eradicate terrorism. This exact same formulation applies in the case of Syria as well."

"The Syrians themselves continue to provide shelter for the headquarters of terrorist organizations, terrorist training camps are still located on Syrian territory, and those weapons shipments from Iran are still moving through Syrian harbors and airport into Lebanon."

7. The Region after the Iraq Campaign

"I think that the war in Iraq has brought about a change in the region. Today, we can see moderate leaders in the Arab world willing to do things which they were unwilling to do beforehand. For example, my meeting with the Foreign Minister of Qatar, which was not only announced beforehand and photographed, but also followed by a joint press conference. The fact that he was willing to sit down together with the Israeli Foreign Minister, with both flags on the table, is not a trivial matter. Although we shouldn’t exaggerate its importance, this kind of meeting would not have been possible when Saddam Hussein was still in power. And my meeting last week with the Crown Prince of Bahrain is a similar case in point."

"I believe that, in the final analysis, the internal Palestinian agreement to a terrorist cease-fire is also a result of a recognition that the great sponsor of terrorism, Saddam Hussein, is no longer around."

"This [the war against Saddam] is a very significant factor. I truly hope that these same moderate forces in the Arab world will be those which will lead the wave, will facilitate the return of the Egyptian and Jordanian ambassadors and the other Arab missions. This would constitute a very positive impetus for the peace process between ourselves and the entire Arab world."