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U.S. Department of State
96/02/05 Remarks with Prime Minister Peres following meeting
Office of the Spokesman



                        U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                         Office of the Spokesman 
 
                               (Jerusalem) 
 
For Immediate Release                                 February 5, 1996 
 
 
                  REMARKS BY PRIME MINISTER SHIMON PERES 
                 AND SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER 
                         FOLLOWING THEIR MEETING 
 
                                Jerusalem 
                             February 5, 1996 
 
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES:  Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to welcome the 
Secretary of State and his team, Mr. Warren Christopher, upon his visit 
right now to Israel, and I understand he will continue his way to 
Damascus.  May I remind you that the Secretary has been here in the 
middle of December, on the 15th of December.  As a result of his visit 
here the first meeting in the Wye Plantation started on the 26th, that 
was eleven days after this visit.  Then he paid another visit on the 
11th of January, and again the second meeting in the Wye Plantation 
started on the 21st of January.  So it means on the two occasions he 
really has opened the road for the Wye Plantation meetings.  On the 
Israeli part, may I say that we are very much satisfied with the 
meetings at the Wye Plantation.  Not that we have agreed on all the 
points, but we have agreed on how to start the negotiations, in a right 
air, in a climate that permits both sides to throw in ideas, check them, 
try to look for new ways, for new answers.   
 
We know that we are handling a very difficult dispute, a conflict.  But 
there are some understandings that have created a common denominator for 
the continuation of the negotiations.  To the otherwise agenda that was 
known before the Wye Plantation meetings, the following points were 
added: agreement to use the negotiations with Syria and Lebanon to bring 
an end to the wars in the Middle East, to make it comprehensive, 
something I believe is important to all the parties.  Secondly, we went 
much deeper into the economic foundations which are necessary for the 
support of peace and for making peace durable and meaningful to all the 
people.  We started a very serious discussion on normalization and a 
beginning on the security arrangements.  It's quite a wide scope.  And 
may I say that as one who has a little bit of experience in 
negotiations, I remember all the beginnings of all the negotiations.  We 
never arrived at the full agreement at the first stage.  It was always a 
chain of overcoming hurdles and difficulties.  But this time, I think, 
we started at least in an agreeable manner to negotiate, and I feel that 
today the situation is no longer the one that used to be before the 
negotiations started. 
 
We know that the Secretary is taking all the troubles in the world to 
continue his road to Damascus.  From  our standpoint, his coming now, 
and being here and in Damascus is really to prepare and look for the 
continuation of the negotiations -- whether it will be in a sort of a 
Wye Plantation, or somewhere else, or somewhere different.  But it's 
like cutting one mountain, then another mountain, then another mountain, 
to make the road open for the continuation of the negotiations.  We on 
our side, are still very much interested to see if we can make peace 
with Syria and Lebanon even in this year.  And no matter what will 
happen in the country, we intend to continue the negotiations without 
any interruption.   
 
I personally feel obliged to the great work that the Secretary was doing 
together with the support and guidance of the President and with that 
team that goes with him.  We think it's a highly responsible, so 
difficult, undertaking.  And it's being done with great dignity and 
devotion.  I am very grateful for it, and thank you very much. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Mr. Prime Minister, thank you very much.  I'm 
always glad to return to Israel, particularly on a beautiful day like 
this.  I've just come, as you know, from the Balkans.  In Sarajevo I 
witnessed the devastation and human suffering that can be caused by war.  
Here, I see the tremendous promise and the tremendous step forward that 
can be done in the context of peace.  As the Prime Minister has said, I 
have been traveling regularly to this region.  But just in the few weeks 
that have transpired since I have been here, there have been a number of 
important steps taken.  There have been the first steps in normalization 
between Tunisia and Israel with the agreement to open interest sections.  
There have been steps toward normalization between Oman and Israel.  
There's been the elections of the Palestinians in the West Bank and 
Gaza, laying the foundations for their own functioning efforts there.  
And, as the Prime Minister has said, there's been another round of talks 
at the Wye Plantation.  I went there twice, and in the last round of 
talks I spent two interesting evenings there, and I can say that from my 
standpoint, the negotiations are qualitatively different than they were 
in the past.  A meaningful dialogue has now been established between the 
parties, and they are now discussing a whole range of issues openly and 
candidly with the ability to exchange ideas with an openness and candor 
that has not been present before.  Neither side of course, is prepared 
to compromise anything that it regards as essential, but they are 
building bridges to overcome their differences.  They are exploring ways 
to reconcile their needs.   
 
I am convinced that Israel and Syria are now laying the foundation, 
laying the groundwork, for the peace treaty which we all hope will come.  
They have deepened their understanding in this very last round of each 
other's security needs.  They have deepened their understanding as to 
what is necessary for normalization.  They began addressing ways to meet 
each other's security needs which, of course, lie at the foundation of 
these discussions.  Clearly much work remains to be done, but I would 
say there is no doubt that in these negotiations, and especially with 
the acceleration of the Wye Plantation, we have come a long way; come a 
long way toward the historic peace between Israel and Syria -- a peace 
with dignity and with security.  That's what President Clinton has 
directed me to try to help achieve, and that certainly is what the 
people of Israel deserve.  
 
Thank you very much. 
 
 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Prime Minister, if indeed elections are going to be 
advanced, would it be proper or right to give the Israeli people before 
they vote a solid idea of the territorial compromises your government 
evidently is ready to make in exchange for recognition, instead of 
waiting till after the election, when of course, there has been an 
election already and they can't quote on it? 
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES:  In my judgment, they gave it before the previous 
elections.  They said that we are ready to make a territorial 
compromise.  We think that's a wide enough definition.  I don't think 
that we have to start to negotiate it ourselves.  We may succeed in it.  
What we need is an intermission, or a mandate to negotiate with the 
Syrians, in order really to bring an end to the war.  In a very wide 
definition, we shall ask for a mandate to continue our negotiations. 
 
QUESTION (In Hebrew*):  Mr. Prime Minister, there are some people in 
Israel, among them for instance Minister Yossi Beilin, who think that 
advancing the elections will stop the negotiations with Syria for an 
entire year.  Are you worried about this? 
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES (In Hebrew*):  I haven't heard that opinion, and I 
don't know about such an opinion.  I didn't hear any such opinion from 
among the Cabinet members.  I don't accept it.  I think we have to 
conduct the negotiations without any connection to the elections; and if 
we have to advance the elections, we'll do so with no connection to the 
negotiations. 
 
QUESTION (In Hebrew*):  Have you already told Secretary Christopher that 
you have decided to advance the elections? 
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES (In Hebrew*):  No, I will first tell the Israeli 
public.   
 
QUESTION (In Hebrew*):  Does the announcement of the joint list of the 
Likud and Tzomet pressure you? 
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES (In Hebrew*):  They're proceeding jointly; they 
just don't know where to. 
 
QUESTION (In Hebrew*):  To defeat you in the elections. 
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES (In Hebrew*):  That's not a genuine political move.  
It's a political ploy.  In my opinion we need to proceed to bring peace 
to the people and growth in the Israeli economy, and that's what we are 
proposing. 
 
QUESTION (In Hebrew*):  And does that strengthen your decision to 
advance the election, their joint list? 
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES (In Hebrew*):  When I decide whether to advance the 
elections I'll answer that question -- when I announce that decision.  I 
have said that I will announce it in the middle of this month, and 
that's what I'll do. 
 
QUESTION (In Hebrew*):  In other words, next week. 
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES (In Hebrew*): In other words, next week. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, do you have any idea about the possibility 
that the elections will be advanced? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That is a decision that will have to be taken by 
this government -- by the Israeli government.  I think it is much more 
appropriate for the Prime Minister to comment on that as he has just 
been extensively doing, but what I can say is that I believe that we can 
continue the peace negotiations under any scenario here, and that is 
what is our determination to do.  Our role is to try to facilitate the 
negotiations and to press forward, and we shall do so under whatever 
scenario, whatever decision is made by the Israeli government, shall I 
say is completely their decision to make. 
 
QUESTION:  But according to your assessment, will it cause any 
difficulties to the peace efforts? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  As I said, I believe we can go forward under any 
scenario, and that's our job to do. 
 
QUESTION (In Hebrew*):  (inaudible question about the effect of the 
elections on the negotiations)  
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES (In Hebrew*):  Why do I have to make such a 
promise?  I don't think there's any danger.  And in general I don't have 
to answer all the criticism.  I have said that I will make an 
announcement by the middle of the month and I will stand by that.  I 
have said that a few minutes ago, and I have no intention of making a 
connection between our decision and the negotiating process. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, what is the next step in the negotiations?  
Are you going to start a full negotiation about the issue that are dealt 
in the Wye Plantation?  Or are you going to maybe move the talks to 
another location, maybe to Europe? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, I am really here to talk to both of the 
parties about the next steps in the negotiation.  That's the customary 
reason for my trip.  I've had a good meeting with the Prime Minister and 
his top colleagues today.  I am going to Damascus tomorrow and I will be 
talking with President Assad.  I'll be back here on Wednesday, and at 
the end of this trip I hope we will know the focus and format of the 
continuation of the negotiations.  As I say, I believe that under any 
set of circumstances, under any scenario, we will find the right 
procedure to continue, and I would not like to try to predict or 
forecast it now. 
 
QUESTION (In Hebrew*):  Mr. Peres, do you think the time has come to 
begin negotiating in teams, specific negotiations, or do we still need 
to continue with preliminary discussions at the Wye Plantation? 
 
PRIME MINISTER PERES (In Hebrew*):  I am very satisfied with the way 
things went at Wye Plantation.  At a certain point there were also the 
military experts, the two generals.  There were also economic issues.  
And I think the structure is good.  That's the way the negotiations were 
conducted with the Palestinians.  From time to time things can be 
widened or broadened according to need.  But certainly an informal 
atmosphere has been created that allows for negotiations.  We need to 
conduct the negotiations, the two sides, with great caution.  These are 
critical issues for all of us.  And I think this is the right way. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, do you see any hope for a summit between Mr. 
Peres and Mr. Assad in the coming months if we have yet to reach an 
agreement on all existing issues at Wye.  And b) your Ambassador here 
spoke publicly that before his death -- Mr. Rabin, a week before he was 
killed, he agreed to the U.S. putting forward -- he called it a non-
paper, some might call it a bridging proposal on security arrangements.  
Do you see at what that would be appropriate for the U.S. to put forward 
its ideas on security arrangements on the Golan? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  David, on the first point, I can only reiterate 
what I have said many times in the past.  At an appropriate time in the 
negotiation it will certainly be desirable for the Prime Minister and 
the President of Syria to meet together.  I think at the right time that 
can facilitate the negotiations.  That time will be reached in the 
fullness of time, and we will have to pursue the negotiations to see 
when that takes place.  With respect to the comments that were made 
before Prime Minister Rabin's death, let my say that there has been a 
qualitative change in the character of the negotiations.  Since then, we 
have had twelve days at the Wye Plantation.  I think the progress in 
those twelve days was quite remarkable.  On some aspects of the 
negotiation, for reasons that I mentioned earlier, I would say that the 
United States is going to be helpful to the parties in making 
suggestions, in making -- perhaps suggesting bridging proposals.  But I 
don't want to, at this point, forecast exactly the pattern of the 
negotiations.  I think we've got a good format at Wye Plantation 
Conference Center in which there are intensive negotiations between the 
two chief negotiators, and I come here periodically to talk with the two 
leaders about what has been discussed at the Wye Plantation, and that is 
a basis for the time being that I think we should follow. 
 
QUESTION:  Is the negotiation between Israel and Lebanon will resume 
after your trip? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think that negotiations between Israel and 
Lebanon should resume at some point in the future, but only after 
sufficient progress has been made on the Syrian track to make those 
negotiations meaningful.  I do want to stress, though, that Lebanon is 
not being forgotten, not being ignored in this set of negotiations.  
Simply that the timing, I think, is not right at the moment to renew 
those negotiations.  It depends on progress being made in the other 
track. 
 
Thank you very much. 
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