Herzliya, December 17, 2003

Summary of Address by FM Shalom to the 4th Herzliya Conference
(Communicated by the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya)

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom today at the fourth Herzliya Conference bemoaned the lack of determination, perseverance and patience in the Israeli political discourse.

It was determination, perseverance and patience which have allowed US President George W. Bush to withstand criticism and pursue his line until the capture, this week, of Saddam Hussein, said Mr. Shalom.

In contrast, Mr. Shalom pointed out, the proliferation of various peace plans currently being floated indicates the lack of such determination and perseverance in the Israeli side. These plans, said Mr. Shalom, though perhaps understandable in the light of continuing hardships, indicate weakness and short-sightedness, and undermine the basic principles that have thus far guided Israeli policymakers. Such principles include the desire for peace and security, the pursuit of agreements with Israel’s neighbors, and a united Israeli front. They also undermine the Israeli position by rendering Israel’s end-positions in the negotiations into its starting-positions.

Mr. Shalom said there already exists a guideline towards peace, and one which enjoys wide international support: the roadmap. While this roadmap, said Mr. Shalom, answers both the desire for peace and the need for security, it is also strongly supported by such valued friends of Israel as the USA and by such important players in the international arena as the EU; maintaining good relationships with such powers is one why Israel should also adhere to the roadmap.

The roadmap also imposes conditions on the Palestinians, primarily to act against terrorism, in return for such Israeli moves as the evacuation of illegal settlements. Should the Palestinians live up to their part of the deal, said Mr. Shalom, Israel will act upon its own commitment. Mr. Shalom contrasted this with the various independent plans which, he said, made more and more concessions to the Palestinians without demanding anything in return, thus undermining the motive for the Palestinian to come to the negotiating table.

However, said Mr. Shalom, while pursuing the roadmap Israel must also implement other options. Should a negotiated resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians prove to be impossible, Israel must do all that is within its power to protect its citizens. Mr. Shalom called for an acceleration in building the barrier fence, as a defensive means. He also said that, should the Palestinian route prove to be a dead-end, Israel should try to pursue the Syrian route.

Mr. Shalom also pointed out several Israeli goals, such as the normalization of its relations with the Arab world, and the int’l war against terrorism.