View Header


                     Office of the Press Secretary
                          (Jerusalem, Israel)
For Immediate Release                                     March 13, 1996     
                              TO THE POOL
                          Aboard Air Force One
                     En Route to Israel From Egypt                            

8:35 P.M. (L)

(In progress)

PRIME MINISTER PERES: I think it was a great conference, both unprecedented in the way it was organized -- both in content and organization. Let's not forget that the whole idea was -- (inaudible) -- and finally, a quite realistic conclusion is an unqualified success in my judgment.

For the first time in history there was an Arab participation on security matters to condemn terror, even to offer condolences to Israel by name. It is a real change in the whole setup. And I think the President can claim really credit for a great success.

From our point of view, when we think how to confront terrorism, we know that we have to act in three different arenas. One is domestically, to increase our forces, to fortify our borders, to prevent the infiltration to the land.

The second is to ask Mr. Arafat to be in charge in those areas which are under his jurisdiction. What we ask from him is actually three things -- to outlaw terrorist organizations, to get hold of the leaders of the gang, and to disarm the people who carry the illegal weapons.

Q How good is he doing on these three?

PRIME MINISTER PERES: He has issued a decree to outlaw the terroristic organizations. On getting hold of the leaders of the gang, we gave him a list of 30, I think he has arrested until now 12. He's arrested the number two man. He didn't arrest yet the number one man, which in our judgment is a very dangerous gentleman.

Q He did not arrest number one?

PRIME MINISTER PERES: Number one he didn't arrest. He arrested number two. And that gave us a full picture. And the third is the international part of it -- the supply of money, the supply of arms, the supply of infrastructure, the supply of shelter, the supply of political support. So now when we have organized all the three fronts together, we can say that we are beginning to organize a real confrontation with the terrorists.

Now, let me say just one sentence, to say what happened until now is that when you have had war you didn't have peace. When you have had peace you didn't have war. Now, for the first time, we have peace and war combined. And the problem was how to handle it. And if one may say there is a Clinton doctrine, it is actually saying, if you want to have peace you have to fight terror at the same time. You cannot say, I shall work for peace and you will be free to go on with your matter.

Q We heard several calls today to not do collective punishment, including from the Prime Minister of Ireland.

PRIME MINISTER PERES: He is right, but why should we have the collective punishment? If they come in with bombs in our cities and kill innocent people, this is also collective punishment.

Q But does somebody have to set -- somebody has to go first.

PRIME MINISTER PERES: We went first. We opened the gates to say come in and work as much as you want. We opened everything. But if they use it to smuggle arms or to smuggle terrorists, what choice do we have?

Q Can you see a point where in the future you can respond to terrorist attacks by not shutting off the borders?

PRIME MINISTER PERES: If we shall see that Arafat is putting himself in control. We don't ask 100 percent success; we are not idiots. We don't ask that Arafat will do, say, more than Mubarak does in Cairo, or Hussein does in Amman. But we are asking what is being done in Cairo or being done in Amman will be done in Gaza. Then we'll have a different relation.

Q You saying that first to have peace you've got to have war -- it goes together. So you have permanent war with terrorism by your peace agreements.

PRIME MINISTER PERES: Peace will prevail.

Q But you'll always have terrorism. You're not going to claim you're going to stomp out terrorism, right?

PRIME MINISTER PERES: It depends upon -- today what is their choice, either to mobilize all Arabs to join in the terror, or to have the Arab majority, which is for peace, to bring an end to terror. And what we want is their mobilization in legal ways to get over it. And for the first time, this governing says that for the sake of peace, we, the Arabs, have to get ourselves organized to fight terror. This is new.

Q I think you were the only person to mention Iran specifically today. Are you convinced the Arab governments are going to go after Iran?

PRIME MINISTER PERES: Look, the fact is that nobody protested. And the fact is that in our informal talks with the Arabs, all of them take it. Nobody doubted it at all, and many of them expect us to be loud and clear and outspoken on that issue. That's why we did it.

Q How significant was the absence of Syria and Lebanon today?

PRIME MINISTER PERES: I think Syria committed a mistake, clearly. I think she has isolated herself.

Q The reason they didn't come was because they felt they'd basically be isolated and be picked on, for a lack of a better term.

PRIME MINISTER PERES: Well, how can they identify themselves with the present expression of terror, when the aim is to kill women and children and to commit suicide? They cannot justify it. I think they will have to take a stand sooner or later.

Q Did the President ask you to move ahead with phase two?


Q Phase two, the next phase, the final status talks?

PRIME MINISTER PERES: With the Palestinians?

Q Yes.

PRIME MINISTER PERES: No, we didn't discuss it. We said to the Palestinians, if you will respect the agreement, we shall respect it, too. And there are two things that they have to do. One is to control terror, and the other is to change a covenant.

Q And you're saying unless they do those two things you're not ready to move ahead in May with the next phase?


Q You're not ready?


Q What does controlling terror add up to, though? I mean, if there are isolated attacks, what do they have to do to prove that they're serious --

PRIME MINISTER PERES: The headquarters of Hamas and the Jihad are in Gaza. They know now where they are. They know who they are. Until now, Arafat tried to claim that the orders are coming from outside. He adopted a version which looks totally unfounded. For example, that the explosives in the bombs were very special explosives that only the Americans and the Israelis possess. This is simple TNT coming from old mines in Gaza and Sinai. It was a story. He has to come to realities and meet them and act accordingly.

Q Did the President bring up air strikes in Lebanon and the refugee camps? He may be getting requests from Chairman Arafat and others that he bring that up with you.

PRIME MINISTER PERES: It wasn't -- we know that --(inaudible) -- Lebanon tried to -- (inaudible) -- today the conference. They opened fire all along the line, and we didn't take the provocation.

Q No retaliation?

PRIME MINISTER PERES: We didn't take the provocation today. We didn't want to destroy the conference.

Q So he didn't bring it up?


Q Was this staying from provocation in general as part of these talks?

PRIME MINISTER PERES: No, it wasn't on that --

Well, thanks very much.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END 8:50 P.M. (L)