ISRAELI DELEGATION PRESS CONFERENCE

OPENING STATEMENT BY MR. ELYAKIM RUBINSTEIN
HEAD OF THE ISRAELI DELEGATIONS TO THE PEACE TALKS

AUGUST 26, 1992

Good afternoon. I’ll just speak to you briefly about what is going on in the negotiations with the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation in both tracks and, of course, your questions are welcome.

In a general way, of course, first, we’re very glad to be here. Our government approaches these negotiations with a sense of devotion, of goodwill, of very open spirit, of hope, and our hearts and minds are open to any suggestions and ideas that our counterparts may have. Of course, our work here is a combination of continuity and renewal. There is continuity in the framework of the negotiations based on the Madrid rules, based on what has been agreed procedurally and otherwise in former rounds, based on matters which are of national agreement in our country. But also renewal elements that are new and they are derived from the guidelines and policies of the new government. In fact our proposals to our counterparts include a number of such elements to which I will briefly allude to.

As you know, our government, inaugurated in July, pledged and suggested a concerted effort to push forward these negotiations, and we are glad that our offer to an accelerated pace, a longer round, was accepted by our Arab partners or counterparts in negotiations. I believe that the atmosphere in the negotiations so far and we are of course only in the beginning of this round and we should be able to judge the results at the end of the round, not at its beginning obviously. Nevertheless, the atmosphere has been good, businesslike, and we look forward to a continued atmosphere of this kind.

Let me briefly characterize the contents of the negotiations in each of the two tracks that my delegation negotiates with.

With the Jordanians and of course we have great interest in negotiation with Jordan and great respect for Jordan we are working on the essence of the issues that are between us now on the table. It’s in a framework of what’s known as agenda negotiations, but the name "agenda" may be slightly misleading, because what you do when you deal with agenda is really enumerate, explore and clarify the core issues. And these are political issues, these are security-related issues, these are human matters, these are bilateral matters. All of them are being explored, and in a very extensive way.

Also, experts from both sides are meeting to deal with practical matters in the relationship. Water, energy, environmental matters have already been explored a little bit in the last round when we departed a few months ago. But now, in an accelerated pace, it’s being very extensively looked into. Of course, papers are being exchanged position papers we submitted, they responded today with a paper, the Jordanians, and we are working on it together with them.

In our meeting with the Palestinians, we presented a number of documents which embody our new ideas in terms of the process, in terms of the peace-making effort. One document includes further ideas and proposals on all the issues that are on our table, including in fact, when I look at these documents, they represent a lot of work that has been put into them. They are dealing with enhancing the negotiations, they deal with the organ that is proposed to be the main organ of the interim self-government arrangements.

And this is our goal now the interim self-government arrangements, the administrative council which will administer the life of the Palestinians in the territories in many, many walks of life. It deals with the powers and responsibilities of the administrative council. It deals with its composition, with its size. It deals with the elections, because this administrative council is to be elected freely by the Palestinians of the territories, from Palestinians of the territories. And the modalities of elections are to be negotiated once we agree that the concept of the administrative council is the agreed concept. We deal with liaison and dispute resolution mechanisms. We deal with timetables.

You may remember that our Prime Minister has alluded to suggested target dates for milestones of negotiations and then the elections. Milestones for negotiations are modalities and powers and responsibilities and the elections, if the concept is agreed. Even if in the meantime negotiations on the concept some of these spheres of responsibilities could be dealt with in the negotiations, and I will allude to that momentarily.

We also suggested committees to deal with specific issues, and we also speak of the shape of the agreement that we will hopefully, finally achieve. The idea of committees is a very practical matter. We deal with scores of issues, and in fact one of the two other documents, besides the document of the general ideas which I just referred to, one of the two documents is a long document which is an informal outline of the different powers, responsibility and spheres of actions of those interim self-government arrangements organs the administrative council and it takes each topic and gives the main suggested powers in this topic.

If you take administrative of justice or you take police or you take labor or you take ecology or you take taxation or you take industry and commerce each of them has (a) the idea of what we propose as the powers and also the subjects that have to be negotiated and discussed.

…/.

Because many of them, in various degrees of detail, need further elaboration in those committees. For instance, to establish a police, one thing is to propose a police, recall its powers and so on, and the other is to see how that fits into the overall responsibility for security, which will remain with Israel. And this has to be fully explored.

If you take economic matters, like taxation, while it is politically or lesser importance maybe, in practical matters at times it is very important because you don’t speak of a separation between Israel and the territories that we are talking about. You speak of movement of people, of goods, of services. So everybody here understands that in such situation you need a coordinated effort on taxing matters, just as an example.

We also extended another document, which is an agenda document, responding to an agenda document proposed by the Palestinians, our counterparts, in the last round before we departed.

So you have this full menu, so to speak, of ideas, suggestions and proposals, and they are detailed. I am sure it takes time to study them. It took us time to prepare them, and a lot of preparation, as I said, has been put into it. It’s there on the table to be discussed.

What I would like to underline is, we want to deal not with this or that symptom of the problem. We want to deal with the core of the problem, namely: here we are to discuss the interim self-government arrangements. There are things that are symptoms around it, but there is a core of the issues that have to be dealt with. Here we are to deal with them. Nobody should delude themselves that these are easy things to tackle. They are complex problems. We knew it before, we know it now. Our counterparts know it. Nevertheless, with the accelerated pace, a longer round, with the detailed proposals, with the spirit that we hope will prevail in the negotiations, progress should and can be made, again without standing with a stopwatch.

But as was said by the Prime Minister, if the concept is agreed, then the target date could be worked on. Again, one should be cautious in terms of the pace, but we are here to accelerate. I say caution for a simple reason. The task is awesome. Each sphere, each area includes a lot of details. And the secret is in the details. So, if we will be reciprocated by the willingness which we hope for from our Palestinian counterparts and that’s our hope to go into all of this, here we are to negotiate and to make progress.