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U.S. Department of State
96/06/25 Press Conference with Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu
Office of the Spokesman



                          U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                           Office of the Spokesman 
 
                                 (Jerusalem) 

____________________________________________________________________ 
For Immediate Release                                  June 25, 1996



                         JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE
 
           WITH ISRAEL'S PRIME MINISTER BINYAMIN NETANYAHU
                                  AND 
             U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
         AFTER THEIR MEETING AT THE PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE 
 
                               Jerusalem 
                              June 25, 1996 
 
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Shalom Mr. Secretary:  Welcome.  It is a 
great pleasure for us to welcome you here again.  We all have the 
highest respect for your dedication and your devotion to bringing peace 
with security to our region.  I am certain that the relationship between 
Israel and the United States is, as I described it to President Clinton, 
solid as a rock.  It will continue to be one of trust and friendship.  
You just contributed, I think, to the continuation of that tradition.  
We had a very productive discussion -- working discussion -- which will 
continue tonight, and I look forward for my talks on these matters in 
greater detail with President Clinton in Washington D.C. in the 
forthcoming visit.   
 
Since Madrid, there have been important achievements made to cementing a 
broader peace in our area between Israel and its neighbors.  We are 
seeking to preserve these achievements and to broaden them as well.  We 
intend to resume negotiations with Syria, with Lebanon, and with other 
Arab states.  We believe that the principle that should guide these 
negotiations is "no prior conditions."  I think this is the only way to 
achieve productive and successful negotiations.  It is something that 
has guided us throughout the quest for peace under successive 
governments.  
 
Equally, we intend to resume negotiations with the Palestinian 
authority.   
 
I want to make it clear that we want to see the advancement towards 
peace and, as well, that the achievement of such progress towards peace 
be contingent on security.  We received a clear mandate from the people 
-- the people want peace with security.  We have to underline that the 
people told us that terrorism is incompatible with the advancement 
towards peace.  Therefore, there is a strategic choice for all the 
parties in the Middle East:  It is either terrorism or peace, but you 
cannot have both.  We are committed to continue the search and the 
achievement of a safe peace for Israel and all its neighbors, and we 
intend to act on it. 
 
I will continue the negotiations towards this end -- I should say the 
talks towards this end -- with the Secretary tonight, and as I said 
before, I look forward to continuing them in greater detail with 
President Clinton in Washington.   
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:   Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister.  I am 
very pleased to be back here in Israel and especially in Jerusalem and 
to have had an opportunity to have these conversations with the Prime 
Minister and his new colleagues.   
 
In this, our first meeting since he assumed office, we reaffirmed the 
central importance of the strategic relationship between the United 
States and Israel, and our commitment to maintain the special friendship 
between our two nations.  In the context of this special relationship, 
as the Prime Minister said, we've just had a very useful discussion on a 
wide range of issues.  Of course, we focused much attention on the Arab-
Israeli peace process.  The Prime Minister made it clear to me -- as he 
has just said -- that he is personally committed to the pursuit of peace 
with security, that a secure peace is a fundamental Israeli interest, 
and that this commitment reflects the deep hopes and desires of the 
people of Israel.   
 
Tomorrow I will go to Cairo to meet with President Mubarak, as well as 
with Chairman Arafat.  In the near future -- indeed I can announce today 
-- on the 9th of July, Prime Minister Netanyahu will be coming to 
Washington to meet with President Clinton.  They will, of course, 
continue the discussions that we began today and indeed, perhaps the 
principle purpose of my meeting today is to try to help insure that 
meeting will be as effective and productive as it possibly can be.   
 
During the last several years, we have seen considerable progress toward 
peace in this region and the beginning of a transformation of the 
landscape of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but much more remains to be 
done.  The enemies of peace are still avound.  The Prime Minister and I 
resolved today in our discussion that those enemies of peace must not 
succeed.  Instead we must build for a future -- a better future -- to 
preserve and implement the agreements that have been reached with the 
Palestinians and with the Jordanians, and to try to achieve future 
agreements with Lebanon and Syria.  We also must work to create an 
economic basis for prosperity in the region, so that we can demonstrate 
that peace is not just an abstraction but has a concrete meaning in the 
lives of the people.   
 
We all have an enormous stake in seeing this process continue and 
achieving a real peace between Israel and the Arabs.  That peace must be 
lasting and secure.  Real peace without security is not possible and 
real security without peace is also impossible.   
 
Our long, enduring relationship with Israel is based upon shared values, 
shared interests, and deeply rooted friendship.  We share -- we have an 
unshakable commitment to Israel's security and well-being.  As the 
President has said, we will do everything within our power to help 
Israel minimize the risks it is taking for peace.  With the trust and 
confidence that have long been the hallmarks of our relationship with 
Israel, we will work to move forward toward the kind of peace that the 
people in this region have long deserved and have long been denied.  
 
Thank you very much. 
 
QUESTION (in Hebrew*):  Secretary Christopher said on the plane on the 
way here that he will pressure you to open a direct channel with the 
Head of the Palestinian Authority Arafat, and that there is a need to 
fulfill the agreement for the redeployment in Hebron.  What is your 
response to Christopher's statements?   
 
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU (in Hebrew*):  Those are the things that are 
attributed to him.  Those are two different things.   
 
QUESTION (in Hebrew*):  I mean the statements that were released from 
Secretary Christopher's plane. 
 
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU (in Hebrew*):  First of all, we intend and are 
proceeding to open channels with the Palestinian Authority.  We did this 
already on the first day after the election results were verified, 
actually in the first hour, in a conversation that took place between 
Dore Gold, my political advisor and Abu Mazen.  And we are opening other 
channels.  I said that there are many problems in the search for peace 
between the Palestinians -- the Palestinian Authority -- and Israel.  
However, the absence of communication channels, will not be one of them.  
We are communicating, and we will expand these channels and there will 
be dialogue. 
 
To your second question regarding Hebron.  Hebron is a very complex 
problem.  We are, as you know, promoting the principle of all sides 
honoring agreements.  We are also aware that agreements and progress 
towards peace, depend, as I have said, on the subject of security.  The 
security problem in Hebron is cardinal; it is very serious; it is very 
complex; it is very complicated.  And I don't have to remind you that we 
faced slaughter of the Jews in 1929, when the Jewish entity in Hebron 
was wiped out.  In the same way there was a terrible outbreak of 
violence in the Machpala Cave murders.  Therefore, on the subject of 
Hebron one must proceed  very carefully while learning the facts, and I 
think we have to act here with care, with great responsibility, and not 
to act hastily.  And therefore we are learning the problem. 
 
QUESTION (in Hebrew*):  Mr. Prime Minister, to follow-up the question on 
a possible meeting between you and Arafat, not just the things that are 
coming from the Christopher's plane, but also the opinion of many 
professionals that the time has come for a direct connection between you 
and Arafat, not between your advisors and Arafat's advisors.  I want to 
understand what has to happen for such a meeting, or such a direct 
contact, will come about.  And again, on the subject of Hebron, we 
remember that before the elections you expressed your opinion that the 
redeployment should be postponed until the final agreement.  Is your 
current opinion on this different? 
 
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU (in Hebrew*):  I will repeat what I said to 
your colleague from Kol Israel, we are opening channels of communication 
with the Palestinian Authority at different levels, and that dialogue is 
already taking place and it will be expanded in the coming days.  I 
repeat on the subject of Hebron, we are learning the problem in all its 
aspects.  I have already invested -- less than a week, since the 
government was established and I am not stinting study hours on the 
subject of Hebron.  I intend to complete the understanding of the 
subject so we can establish a clear position on the subject. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Prime Minister, could you...we haven't heard that catch-
phrase 'land for peace' so far today, unless it's been said in Hebrew 
and I didn't catch it.  Are you still hearing the American strategy as 
one of 'land for peace,' and, since it doesn't seem to be your campaign 
strategy does it make you uncomfortable the Administration is promoting 
an approach that, maybe, is no longer consistent with Israel's? 
 
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  First of all, I am very comfortable with the 
American position as an ally of Israel and as a genuine engine for 
peace.  We seek the participation of the United States in moving this 
region and, specifically, Israel's relations with our Arab neighbors 
towards peace.  I think the United States has been a stalwart champion 
of the idea of direct negotiations and of the idea of no prior 
conditions.  We have our position, some of the parties have different 
positions.  The important thing is not to force, in advance of 
negotiations, anything -- in fact, not to force, during the 
negotiations, anything, but to have negotiations in which the different 
views can be exchanged and, one would hope, be resolved.  But this is 
something that I believe both the government of Israel and the 
government of the United States believe as a common principle, that we 
should have no prior conditions. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, did you deliver a strong message to the Prime 
Minister against any expansion of the settlements and, with your 
permission, one question in Hebrew to the Prime Minister?   
 
(in Hebrew*) Mr. Prime Minister, do you intend to stand by your promise 
to the voter from before the election to build new settlements and to 
expand existing settlements? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Let me tell you in answer to your first question 
that the primary purposes of my trip here were essentially three.  
First, to underscore the important strategic relationship between the 
United States and Israel and to make it absolutely plain that that is an 
unshakable commitment of the United States.  Second, I emphasized that 
the United States was committed to assist the parties in pursuing peace.  
The Prime Minister has made it clear that he wants to do that without 
prior conditions, without preconditions.  That is certainly a position 
that we strongly support.  And finally, the purpose of the trip here was 
to help prepare for an effective, valuable meeting between President 
Clinton and Prime Minister Netanyahu, and I am sure that will be a most 
useful meeting.   
 
I have not in the past gotten into specific issues when I have been 
asked about positions of the United States and I don't intend to start 
doing so today.  I think if I begin to talk about particular issues I 
will devalue my role in this peace process. I will only emphasize what 
the underlying importance of the visit was:  Our strategic relationship, 
the commitment of both parties to pursue peace without preconditions 
and, finally, in the hopes of establishing a working relationship 
between the Prime Minister and the United States which, of course, will 
be reflected in the conversations in Washington. 
 
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU (in Hebrew*):  To your question, Udi Segal.  
You know my positions and my government's positions regarding the 
unquestionable right of the Jewish people to settle in Eretz Yisrael, in 
all parts of Eretz Yisrael.  A detailed position, how exactly that 
settlement will be accomplished, has not yet been taken.  It will be 
taken in the future.  Regarding the basic right of settlement, the 
position is known and permanent. 
 
QUESTION (in Hebrew*):  Mr. Prime Minister, you are quoted in Newsweek 
as saying that you compliment Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian 
Authority on their fight against terror.  My colleagues and I are trying 
to understand whether you are conditioning Arafat's fight against 
Islamic terror or Islamic Jihad terror, will this success lead in the 
end to your meeting personally with Yasser Arafat? 
 
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU (in Hebrew*):  First of all you are not exact 
regarding the quotation.  I was not quoted as complimenting the 
Palestinian Authority.  I said that the last few months have proven that 
the Palestinian Authority has the capacity to work to prevent and wipe 
out terror, and they have partially proven it.  I don't want to say that 
we are completely satisfied with what has been done, and I must say that 
there are a lot of things that have not been done.  But certainly a 
capability has been proven clearly to anyone who doubted that.  I said 
that we expect that the Palestinian side will honor its obligations also 
in this area.  Honoring agreements is essential to establish security -- 
not just physical security -- but also security regarding the 
continuance of the process between the sides. 
 
QUESTION (in Hebrew*):  After you are satisfied on that point, is there 
a chance you will meet with Yasser Arafat? 
 
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU (in Hebrew*):  I have said that if I think that 
it is essential for the security of the State of Israel and the future 
of peace, I will consider it. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Prime Minister, you have said many times that you want 
peace talks without preconditions and yet you seem to have some.  On the 
Golan, for instance, that Israel will retain sovereignty on the Golan.  
Why is this not a precondition?  Why isn't this an assumption of how a 
negotiation will end if there is any negotiation? 
 
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Look, I can tell you that we went to Madrid 
with our position that was well known.  The Syrians went to Madrid with 
their position that is well known.  No one said, "We are not coming 
because the other side has a contrary position."  We went and began 
negotiations and we intend to continue those negotiations.  I think the 
Madrid framework was a very useful one because it allowed us, in fact, 
to engage, despite conflicting positions, in what could be a productive 
process and, I think, no side is forced to change its positions and yet, 
there are many, many areas of potential common interests below the 
question, or beyond, or before the question of territorial disputes on 
which we disagree. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Prime Minister, are you going to complete the partial 
withdrawal from Hebron and did you tell the Secretary of State that?  
And Mr. Secretary, what did you hear from the Prime Minister about 
Hebron and what would you like the Israeli government to do about 
withdrawal from Hebron? 
 
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: (addresses Secretary Christopher) It sounds 
like a cross-examination!  First he asks me and then he asks you what he 
asked me.   
 
I told Secretary Christopher exactly what I told you here.  You will 
hear, rapidly, confirmation about that.  Namely that we are studying the 
question of Hebron in all its complexities -- historical complexity, 
religious complexity, security complexity of the highest order -- and 
that is exactly what I told him. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  You won't be surprised that I confirm that the 
Prime Minister told me exactly what he has said here, in our private 
meeting. 
 
QUESTION:  Well, actually what I wanted to know was what would you like 
to hear from the Prime Minister about Hebron?  For example, yesterday 
you said that the Prime Minister had said that he intends to adhere to 
the international agreements and that the pullout of Hebron was an 
international agreement.  Do you think Israel should announce its 
intention to complete the redeployment of troops from Hebron? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I don't want to go beyond where I have been and 
the Prime Minister indicated that he will respect agreements and he is 
studying the matter with great intensity, and certainly it is a very 
complex issue, as he says. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, in an interview that Mr. Netanyahu gave before 
his election, he said that if the Syrians didn't agree to the sorts of 
peace agreements that he had in mind and they kept the Palestinian 
rejectionists in Damascus, he believes the United States -- which should 
be joined by Europe -- should apply the same sort of sanctions, he said, 
that it applies to countries like Iran and Libya.  People in his circle 
have talked about the notion of triple containment.  I want to ask you 
what you think about this idea and, also, Sharm el Sheikh -- we had a 
conference there in March, there was supposed to be a follow-up meeting 
in Luxembourg, the meeting never happened.  Can you give us a little up-
date of what plans to be done on the anti-terrorism front?  Thank you, 
sir. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Well, as you know, the position in the United 
States against terrorism is a very strong one.  Syria is on the United 
States terrorism list and subject to the circumstances that result from 
being on that list.  We continue to take a very strong position against 
terrorism and will not stop doing so.  The Prime Minister has indicated 
that he wishes to go forward with negotiations without preconditions.  
We are strongly in favor of direct negotiations between the parties to 
resolve these issues, wanting to be helpful in whatever way we can. 
 
With respect to Sharm el Sheikh, I think that was an extremely important 
meeting.  It reflected the fact that fourteen or fifteen Arab countries 
declared their antagonism to terrorism, their support for Israel in its 
fight against terrorism.  We intend to follow up that meeting in 
bilateral channels for the time being, because we think that will be the 
most productive way to follow up on that.  But I think that meeting was 
a very strong indication of the condemnation throughout this region of 
terrorist activities. 
 
PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Let me make one final comment:  Mr. 
Secretary, you know that this is a government of reforms, of structural 
reforms inside Israel.  I want to promise you that the next time you are 
here I will make a structural reform in this room and give us some air 
conditioning.  The press also deserves it.  Thank you very much.  
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