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U.S. Department of State
96/10/06 Press Conference with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu
Office of the Spokesman



                   U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                    Office of the Spokesman

                          (Jerusalem)

____________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                                October 6, 1996


                      JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE 
         WITH ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BINYAMIN NETANYAHU AND
               U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
           AFTER THEIR MEETING AT THE PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE

                            Jerusalem
                         October 6, 1996

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Mr. Secretary, it is good to welcome you here 
again.  You and your staff are always welcome.  You have traditionally 
helped the peace process in the Middle East.  You have done so in the 
last few days with President Clinton's initiative, important initiative 
in Washington, and you continue to do so by coming here and helping the 
parties in the negotiations by acting as a facilitator.  We had, I 
think, an excellent talk.  We talked a great deal about how to 
facilitate the talks and I think we saw many things that could be done 
to that effect. 

I want to thank the American administration, President Clinton and 
yourself for undertaking to do this.  These talks are not going to be 
the easiest in the world, but I think that we can achieve progress and 
achieve results if we repair to the standard of meeting commitments.  It 
is accepted often that Israel is asked to keep commitments in the case 
of redeploying from Hebron, and that is true, but so is the Palestinian 
side.  It is asked to keep commitments, commitments that unfortunately 
were not kept in the firing of weapons last week.  What we seek is a 
simultaneous recommitment by both sides to the principles that they 
signed up, both signed on to in Oslo and these are not abstract issues, 
these are not legalisms.  I was struck by two families, one Palestinian 
and one Israeli.  One, I saw, I must admit, on television last night, in 
Hebron, beyond closed doors.  They came to their front door, walked out 
for a minute and were forced to go back in as the curfew was in force 
and one could think of the pressures that they live under and, by the 
way, we have tried to lift by rescinding the closure on Hebron but there 
is a great deal of pressure and burden and suffering on the Palestinian 
population, and which we want to allay and ultimately do away with that 
suffering. 

Secondly, today, I met with a young woman, about thirty years old, a 
mother of eight, the oldest child is fourteen and the youngest is one 
year old, from Hebron.  And she came to see my colleagues and myself and 
the Likud Knesset faction and she said "you are going to determine the 
fate of my family and my children because what you will decide in the 
course of the redeployment in Hebron will determine whether my children 
live, whether they will have a future, whether they will be hurt or 
whether they will be safe."  And, of course, there are many other issues 
involved but I think on the most human level what we are charged with, 
all of us, is to protect Israeli and the Palestinian children and to 
give them a better future, in Hebron and elsewhere.  And this is our 
responsibility, this is our charge and this is our mandate, and with 
your help, Mr. Secretary, and with God's help, we will succeed.

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Mr. Prime Minister, good afternoon ladies and 
gentlemen. The Prime Minister and I have just concluded a very valuable 
session which I hope can contribute to the success of the negotiations 
which resume tonight.  As you know, in the wake of last week's meetings 
in Washington, President Clinton asked me to come here to the region for 
brief visits with the Prime Minister and with Chairman Arafat to try to 
find ways to seek the best results from the resumed negotiations.  The 
recent violence has demonstrated a great urgency of reaching some 
concrete results just as soon as possible. We now must work together to 
determine how best to implement the interim agreement with, of course, 
an initial focus on Hebron as well as other issues.  Implementing the 
interim agreement is really the best way to restore trust and confidence 
between the parties.  In order to have these negotiations succeed it 
seems essential to have both the Israelis and the Palestinians 
understand well and better the needs of each other, to take their 
requirements into account.  Agreements simply will not be possible if 
there are winners and losers.  Both sides need to be able to win, that 
is exactly the point you made in Washington, Mr. Prime Minister, just 
after the meeting concluded.

I want to emphasize to you and to this audience in Israel that President 
Clinton and I understand the fundamental importance that the Prime 
Minister places on the security needs of the people of Israel.  Clearly, 
security does figure very prominently in the implementation of the 
interim agreement.  Maintaining Israel's security has always been a 
foremost concern of the United States, a place where we have an enduring 
commitment to the security of Israel.  As the President said last week, 
there can be no peace for the Israelis or Palestinians without security 
and there can equally be no security without peace.  Unless we can end 
the conflict and confrontations between the Israelis and the 
Palestinians and replace it with a true reconciliation between the 
peoples there will certainly be no security for either.  

We want to do everything we can to help these negotiations succeed.  
Ambassador Dennis Ross and our team will remain here in the region to 
work with both the negotiating teams to, as the Prime Minister said, 
play a facilitating role in the negotiations.  We understand these are 
bilateral negotiations and that our role is to serve as an intermediary, 
to facilitate the outcome of the negotiations and we will do our very 
best.  Thank you Mr. Prime Minister for this opportunity.  I think our 
meeting today enhances the likelihood that we can find some common 
ground in the days ahead and it is urgent to do so.

QUESTION (in Hebrew*):  Mr. Prime Minister, in Hebrew with your 
permission:  What is the reason for this sudden visit of the American 
Secretary of State Warren Christopher?  Just a few days ago we were in 
Washington, and the principles of the negotiations, including a possible 
timetable, are in fact clear to the Americans.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU (in Hebrew*):  I imagine that the United States 
wants to help in every way possible, to create the necessary climate, 
the necessary rapport and understandings, in order to advance this 
process, and to increase its prospects for success.  And of course the 
arrival of the American Secretary, Mr. Christopher, is very welcome to 
us, is something that can help to increase the understanding, and we 
welcome it.

QUESTION (in Hebrew*):  Isn't (the visit) an expression of American 
pressure on you and on the government of Israel?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU (in Hebrew*):  Do you feel pressure from the 
American Secretary?  I don't feel pressure.

QUESTION (in Hebrew*): I'm asking.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU (in Hebrew*): No.

QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, did you receive concrete and specific 
assurances from the Prime Minister that he will act quickly to produce 
significant results?  And Mr. Prime Minister, what do you say to cynics 
who believe or suggest that there will be nothing concrete until after 
the American elections?

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  The Prime Minister assured me that he 
understands that the context of these negotiations is to go forward with 
the implementation of the interim agreements which he understands there 
is an obligation to carry out.  I think we all understand the urgency of 
the situation.  At the same time, this is a two-party negotiation, so 
his determination to move quickly requires a response from the other 
side -- an understanding from the other side.  But I don't have any 
doubt that the Prime Minister understands the urgency of these 
negotiations.  Indeed it was the Prime Minister who urged these 
negotiations begin even two days earlier than had been talked about 
first in Washington; we talked about doing them on Tuesday, and it was 
the Prime Minister's instinct that we ought to move as rapidly as we 
could.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  You asked what I say to cynics.  To cynics I 
say nothing.  I don't speak to cynics; it's pointless anyway.  I speak 
to people of good faith -- Israelis and Palestinians alike -- who 
understand what's at stake here and the need to act in good faith, in 
rigor, and in speed, as rapidly as possible, to make sure that both 
sides fulfill their commitments, and the security conditions that we're 
talking about, I say uncynically, are important, as important to 
Palestinians as they are to Israelis, because I think that achieving, 
within the framework of the agreement, achieving security arrangements 
in light of what happened last week -- in light of the real threats and 
dangers that we now know are there -- achieving a stable arrangement on 
the ground is something that is as much a Palestinian interest as it is 
an Israeli interest.  It will cement the peace that we want for both 
peoples.

QUESTION (in Hebrew*):  Mr. Prime Minister, the American Secretary of 
State and the Palestinians and Europeans are saying that this 
negotiation is about implementing the interim agreements; not about 
renewed negotiations on interim agreements, but their implementation. 
Did you commit to the fact that what is being discussed is the 
implementation of the interim agreements, and are the security 
requirements that we are hearing from the Israeli side, including, for 
example, a reduction in the weaponry of the Palestinian police?  Aren't 
these tantamount to reopening the Oslo agreements?

QUESTION:  And to the Secretary of State, could you also relate to  this 
question.  Are you seeing these negotiations about the implementation of 
the interim agreements, or are you willing to accept the Israeli 
proposal for opening some of the agreements for renegotiation?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU (in Hebrew*):  We did not suggest reopening the 
agreements.  We have suggested, in the framework of the language of the 
agreement and of the points that are contained therein, to make the 
necessary adjustments particularly in the area of security.  If you want 
to understand what are the adjustments in the area of security -- I met 
a young women today named Orit from Hebron, mother of eight, the oldest 
among them 14 years of age and the youngest one year old.  And she said 
to us, "Now you decide what is going to happen to me, what is going to 
happen to my children, what will happen to my baby.  What will happen on 
the heights?  Will Palestinian police be standing there and shooting at 
us, or is there some other arrangement that can be made?"  She didn't 
say don't do anything.  She said do something that will allow us to 
live; something that will allow us -- and I say also the Palestinians -- 
will allow them to live in peace.  The security arrangements we are 
talking about are within the overall framework of the agreement.  We are 
not talking about reopening the agreement.  But I maintain that we are 
talking about a mutual interest -- of the Palestinians and the Israelis.  
What will happen if we make an unstable agreement?  What if we make an 
agreement without a foundation, without a security foundation, that is 
matched with the reality?  Think of what will happen in another month or 
two months, if it becomes apparent that we didn't do the necessary work, 
and a tragedy takes place in Hebron.  Will that be good for the 
Palestinian Authority?  Will it be good for anyone?  Will it be good for 
the continuation of the peace process?  And therefore what we are 
talking about are those adjustments in the framework of the agreement 
that are necessary for the Palestinians, for the Israelis, for the 
Palestinian children, for the Israeli children.  Not as a catch-phrase, 
but for the children who live there in Hebron, the Jews and the Arabs, 
and of course for the continuation of the peace process which is 
important to all of us. 

SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I think the Prime Minister has largely answered 
the question.  The context will be the existing agreements.  The steps 
for implementation need to be taken within the four corners of the 
agreement.  It's a practical agreement that can take into account 
changed circumstances resulting from the tragic events of last week, but 
I think the Prime Minister was clear with me today that he wants to do 
things that are permitted by the agreement, that are consistent with the 
agreement, and that will be in the best interests of both parties, as he 
has just said.

QUESTION:  Mr. Prime Minister, what exactly do the Palestinians have to 
do in order that Israel will agree to a pull-out or redeployment from 
Hebron.  What specifically are you seeking?  Are you seeking Palestinian 
policemen less lightly armed; are you seeking a buffer zone on the hills 
above Hebron?  And, secondly, assuming that these negotiations can go 
forward, in your mind, when do you think such a pull-out or redeployment 
will happen?  Will it happen by November 5?  Will it happen by the end 
of the year?  When in your mind is your best estimate of when the pull-
back can be concluded?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  You seem to have a fairly detailed agenda, 
gleaned from somewhere, I don't know.  But I'm certainly not going to 
get into a discussion of those detailed specifics, that belong rightly 
around the negotiating table.  What I can tell you is that as far as we 
are concerned, we are going to raise only those things that are truly 
intended to make the agreement work, within the confines of the 
agreement, especially those things that we think are warranted by the 
events, the terrible events, of last week, which cast a shadow, of 
course, which has to be dispelled, or at least protected from.  I think 
it's possible to achieve this in good faith, and I think it's possible 
to achieve it rapidly in good faith, but of course good faith is 
required from both sides.  I assure you that we bring it to our side of 
the table, and I'd like to believe that the other side will act in the 
same way as well, and if that is the case, then we'll move speedily.  
But I am not putting a date; I'm putting a conclusion.  The satisfactory 
conclusion of this negotiation, I think, from both sides will be the 
date which you will be able to signify as the conclusion.  And once it's 
concluded, I don't think there should be a delay in implementation.

QUESTION:  Did you tell President Clinton, or suggest to President 
Clinton, as it's been reported in the media here, that this could happen 
within 45 days?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  No, I didn't commit to a date.  I said to 
President Clinton, as I'm telling you, that we have real security 
concerns, brought about by the mass firings of the Palestinian policemen 
who were supposed to protect the Jewish population in Hebron against 
attackers.  We are now very much concerned that those policemen would 
not train their weapons against the very population they're supposed to 
protect.  And I said we'll have to work out arrangements to ensure that 
that doesn't happen.  I think it's possible to do it.  And I said that 
as soon as we conclude such satisfactory arrangements, we could 
implement the agreement.  But I didn't specify a date.

Thank you very much.

* Translated by U.S.I.S. staff

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