I'd like to begin with telling you that just a few hours ago
thousands of people gathered in the Square. And I'm talking about
Rabin Square in Tel Aviv. Reminding that it is 8 years since
Rabin was assassinated by extremists for the Jewish organizations
in Israel. And I think that we should do the same as the people
in the Square did. Lets stand up for one minute of silence.
Rabin was assassinated 8 years ago after he was so brave to
change his mind and to understand that the reality in the Middle
East is not what we thought.
Rabin was the minister of Defense through the first Intifada.
I saw him when he was dealing with the issues that this Intifada
raised. I was with him and I think that both of us - I can say
very modestly - learned through the first Intifada that the situation
in Israel the reality will not be in the future like it was in
In 1987, 20 years passed since the war in 67, and many people
in Israel thought that it is possible to continue to occupy -
then 2.5 million Palestinians, now 3.5m Palestinians, and we
did it so easily, without any real problems. But the Intifada
in 1987 showed that it is over. And Rabin, I think, as Begin
before, realized, that instead of fighting the Palestinians,
and losing almost everything that we have, we will have to reach
the idea of "Two States for Two People". Instead of
fighting, lets negotiate. Instead of occupying people, lets see
what kind of concessions that we have to make - painful concessions
- if we want to live as a Jewish and a Democratic state.
He was assassinated, and for the last 8 years, well one or
two years in between that we tried all that, we went "off
road." I think that the Geneva Accord - the Geneva Initiative
- the Geneva Agreement is a sign that we are back, talking about
"Two states for two peoples", with a just conclusion
to the conflict, and with an attempt to change our priorities
in order to deal with our own issues, own problems, and to go
back to educate our people, our youngsters, and to show what
kind of achievements a country like Israel, a Jewish state, can
Oslo was a big breakthrough. And I think that in years to
come, when historians will look backward, they will see Oslo
as an historic turning point. Unfortunately, Oslo failed because
of many reasons. The first one was of course the behavior of
the Palestinians that didn't realize that it is time to accept
what they are able to get, and to continue to dream. As Ben Gurion
said in 1948 "lets take what they give us; no one will forbid
us to dream about other issues and other things." But the
Palestinians failed to understand that that they had to quit
terrorism and use other terms of negotiations in order to achieve
their goals. And I think also that the idea of a "phase
by phase" process was also a reason for the failure because
the next phase was always held hostage by the current phase.
If the current phase is not successful, there is no way to continue
to the next one. And there were enough forces in the region,
that their aim was to show that it is impossible. And the idea
of building confidence between the partners - "confidence
building measures" was the slogan that was used - was an
idea that didn't work. On the contrary, I think that confidence
was lost along the failures and Oslo failed
Because the idea that we can do it alone without any third
party - to control, to monitor, and to say who is wrong who is
right - was also a mistake. And maybe the parties were not ready
enough. Maybe we didn't suffer, we both peoples didn't suffer
enough in the Middle East. Because many many times we say, it
is not bad enough. And there is always, we say, well it can't
be worse! But then other day we see that well it is not the bottom
Unfortunately again, I think it will take time. I know that
a lot of people are very enthusiastic and have a lot of hope,
but I think the challenge is to take breaths and it will take
time. It will take time and I'm sure the Geneva Agreement will
be at the end of the day the agreement that will be signed by
the parties. The only question is: how much time it will take,
and how many people will lose their life along this process.
Barak appeared to build a hope, but as the hope was so big
that the disappointment was the same. In a way Barak government
collapse brought the collapse of the peace camp in Israel. Again
I don't want to go into details because it is not so important
this evening, but since the last 3 years it was very very difficult
not only here in the United States to gather forces to talk about
peace to try again and again and again, but also in Israel. Hopefully
that now when we have an agenda, we will be more successful.
But the idea, after the government of Barak collapsed, that
there is no one to talk with, and nothing to talk about, was
the idea that was the atmosphere in Israel for so many years.
And the Israelis were weak, well brainwashed, along the last
3 years that there is nothing to do. There is nothing that we
are able to do. And I think for a state, for a country, for a
society, to think in such terms that there is nothing to do,
you just have to sit and wait, it is very very problematic. A
state a country a society must always initiate, try to bring
solutions, try again and again and again, and we didn't do it
in the last 3 years.
Sharon becoming Prime Minister 3 years ago brought back the
idea and the slogan "Let the IDF win". And maybe the
only positive outcome of this is that most Israelis, including
Sharon, understand now that there is no way to win this conflict
military-wise. By the way, I said it when I was in uniform, as
the Commander of the Central Command responsible for the West
Bank. I said it then that we are able, the army is able to contain,
to give time to the politicians, but there is no way and no one
should think wrongly that there is a way to win militarily using
power, because there is no one to win!
And I think that today, many Israelis understand it better.
But Sharon came and with his right wing government, the first
government, the second one, gave the IDF all the authority to
do what they thought they should do in order to fight terrorism.
But terrorism is the outcome of the situation. So if you are
not dealing with what brought the terrorism, you are not able
to fight terrorism. What can you do against a young woman, 28
or 29 from Jenin, a lawyer, who decides to commit suicide and
to take with her Jews in a very quiet restaurant near the seashore
in Haifa on Saturday? How you fight? How can you find her? How
can you prevent, if you just want to fight terrorism and kill
each and every one of the potential terrorists of tomorrow.
And I must admit that the labor party, joining the first Sharon
government was a big mistake, and of course lead to the question
mark of the people who is the labor party? And why should I vote
for the Labor party if they were part of the Sharon Government
along the first two years. And as you know, the idea that there
is nothing to do, "we" gave them all - you know when
you talk with right wing people, they say "we", not
you, not you the left wing, "we" gave them everything,
what can we do now?
And this was what led us along the last few years. And the
current situation is characterized by first of all despair and
loss of hope, which is a very dangerous situation for a person,
for an individual, and it is much worse for a society that is
a status of despair and loss of hope: "We have tried everything
there is nothing to do!" "We are able only to manage
the conflict, we are not able to solve the conflict."
Therefore there is no policy, there is no strategy, there
is no target that the government is looking for, and there is
a vacuum. And by the way, this vacuum led the chief of general
staff to give an interview just two days ago, and it was very
important, it is very important, and I'm sure that it will serve
the idea of trying to do something in this despair very well.
Because the chief of general staff said after he saw there is
no strategy, only tactics, and maybe he is succeeding to prevent
the "tomorrow" terror event, but by this he is generating
the terrorist activities in the next week or next month. And
the measures that are being taken in order to prevent terror,
the same measures are generating the next terrorism and its effect
on our life.
Of course our economy situation I don't have to use words,
"without peace" or even lets have at least have a peace
process, there is no way to recover the economy without a solid
and stable situation, no investment. And when you don't have
economic growth, there is no income for the government, and when
you don't have income there is no budget, and when you also cut
the budget you hurt very very seriously the social security net.
And in our country, you know Israel is very difficult, we have
still to deal with a lot of newcomers and with the Arab society
in Israel, and the gap between the people that have and the people
that haven't, is the largest in the free world.
So Israel in a way is in a disaster, in a collapsing situation.
And the strength of a country is not just its military might;
it is the combination of military power but also the will of
the people, economic strength, and social strength. And I'm very
worried to say that in these terms, Israel is very weak. Even
that we have the strongest military organization in the Middle
East and in the region. So this is the situation today. No hope,
and nobody trusts politicians or leaders. There are a lot of
risks/dangers in this situation. The time is not in our favor.
The voice of those who are talking about "two states for
two peoples" is now shadowed in a voice of people that are
talking of one state, one nation, which is the end of the Jewish
Democratic country, the end of the Zionist movement. And so the
situation is very dangerous.
I just read an article by Professor Ali Jarbawi from Ramallah
and he is telling in his article that he was 13 when Israel occupied
the West Bank and how he has a child 14 years old. And he thinks
maybe it is time to go back and take away the Palestinian Authority
to wait another 5 or 10 years, and then demand that it will be
one country, from the river to the sea. We heard some people
talking about one state from the river from the sea, but we forgot
there are today a balance between Jews and non-Jews between the
river and the sea. And the demographic question is coming to
be the reality. People talked about it 10-20 years ago, Ben-Gurion
said it after 1967, and it is the reality now. Not a complete
surprise, but now its not just numbers, it is reality. The second
risk is that there is no answer to the security, the personal,
the physical security for people. And those of you that visited
Israel recently, you understand what I mean. Thirdly I think
the conflict begins to become not just a national conflict, but
a religious one.
I'm talking with terminology of "become" it is much
more than that. It is reversible, I think , but this is a big
risk. You have to understand for the last few years, there is
an Arab cable television, Al Jazeera and another two. So the
pictures from Israel is being transmitted daily, 24 hours a day,
to every tent to every remote place in Saudi, to Malaysia, Indonesia,
India, places where the Islam was a moderate one. And every day,
pictures, every day, how the Jews are trying to conquer the Holy
Temple, the mosques on the Temple mount, and how the Jews behave.
And I think we have to be very careful to listen to what the
Prime Minister of Malaysia said. Again, Malaysia, Indonesia!
Indonesia is the largest Islamic country in the world, I visited
once officially and the Islam there was completely different
from the Islam in the Middle East. But if we are not be careful
enough, we will provoke all the Muslims in the world against
us, and it is not an easy task to deal with.
Of course I talked about the collapse of our economy and the
social problems and we are isolated in the Free World. I think
there is always a risk that what we achieved in Egypt and Jordan,
signing peace agreements, will also be in danger. And another
thing, that I think you also think about a lot, is anti-Semitism.
When Israel is isolated in the world and where the state of Israel
is being considered to behave as we behave, then the dangers
of anti-Semitism and the dangers for the Jewish communities around
the world is becoming a real issue, and we have to understand
it. Not to excuse ourselves - "well the world is against
us, as always". This is not an excuse because it is our
problem. We have to take care of all these risks. There may be
another risk; you know the bottom line of all these risks I described
is the question whether the situation is reversible. I think
it is reversible. The orderly alternative is to go back to negotiating
table and to try to achieve a permanent agreement, because if
it is not possible then we will have to separate ourselves from
the Palestinians unilaterally. There is no other alternative.
The current alternative is not an alternative. The idea of one
state for two people is not an alternative.
So this is the idea and Geneva agreement Geneva Accord Geneva
Initiative -we are being blamed to say Geneva agreement because
we are not authorized to sign an agreement so it is Geneva initiative
- is a model and it is an answer to the people who say there
is no one to talk with and nothing to talk about. If we are ready
to talk about the most sensitive issues, we do have partners.
And I say it loud and clear. This is the idea, and the uniqueness
of the Geneva Accord is first of all who are the two groups,
and the most important is who are the Palestinians behind the
agreement? I can tell you I know the Palestinians for many years.
I was the Commander of Central Command, I was part of negotiations
when I was in uniform, and later on, and the group which is behind
the agreement from the Palestinian side is the real one, the
authentic one. I wouldn't have signed this agreement if 6 months
ago a very important group had not joined the initiative. And
I'm talking about people that are coming from the refugee camps,
from the Tanzim, from the youngsters of the Fatah, people that
those of you who are familiar with names, are part of "the
revolution" The revolution is against the traditional leadership,
and then they joined it. Bargouti, who is now in prison, and
we are going to make him a real leader, like Nelson Mandela in
South Africa - and its very important, but his people are the
people who participated in this experiment or initiative. There
is a man, Ishan Abdel Razak. He is from Jabaliya, the largest
refugee camp in Gaza. He was in Israeli prison for 21 years after
an attempt -he didn't succeed - to put a charge - a bomb - in
Rishon Letzion, he was injured very seriously. He was part of
the people who signed this agreement. And he said, "When
I will stand in the middle of Jabaliya, in the square of Jabaliya,
and I will say I signed this agreement, a lot of people will
sign, even not reading what is written in this agreement".
There is a lot of other people, and maybe next time when I
come to speak with you I'll come with a partner from the Palestinian
group to be here with you!
Because the idea is to work together. I told the group that
I met, the leading group of the organization, that we decided
after we met that we will communicate daily, not just because
we miss each other after 3 days together in a beautiful hotel
in Jordan, but mainly because we want that both of us will talk
in the same language. Not in the same language -they will talk
Arabic and we will talk Hebrew - but we'll say the same things.
Because it very important that we will continue to brief our
people and to try to pressure them in, by using the same terms,
not cheating each other. Therefore we are planning not only here
as I suggested, but also in Israel to go from town to town, from
university to university, both Palestinians and Israelis to talk,
to show that it is possible. And the Palestinians that will speak
up will say who he is and what he did and why he came to the
conclusion that this is the time to do it. Now this is the first
uniqueness of this agreement. The second one is that we went
down to the last detail. We did not leave aside any even the
most sensitive issues - Jerusalem, Old City, holy places, borders,
the issues of refugees. Everything we put on the table, we didn't
push it under the rugs. And this is the uniqueness because never
before was it done. And the result of course is maps with a resolution
of 10-20 meters. You have to understand that its very easy to
speak about principles, and a lot of Israelis agree to principles,
but when you go down to the details it is much more difficult.
And the third uniqueness that this agreement is the end of
claims. And it is written in the agreement, and the agreement
replaces all the UN resolutions, and once governments will sign
this agreement - and fulfill it of course and implement it -
it is the end of all arguments and everything. Now to the principles,
and maybe the achievements, of the full part of the draft.
First the Palestinians recognize the state of Israel as the
Jewish homeland. This is very important we didn't meet this announcement
Secondly Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty will be the largest
ever - larger than in the time of King Solomon and King David
- if anyone want to bring the history and the bible, this is
the largest Jerusalem under Israeli - under Jewish rule, recognized
borders, and of course, recognized by the world, which is not
the situation today!
There is a solution for the refugee issue. There is no right
of return. Israel in a very sensitive formula will accept in
its own sovereignty a number of Palestinians, but it will be
Israel's decision, how many, who, when, along what time, by the
way like it will be the US decision, because in the agreement
there will be an appeal to third countries - US Canada Switzerland
Japan Korea - to ask them to accept a number of Palestinians,
and each of these countries will independently and sovereignly
take a decision if and how many. And Israel is in the same category.
So there is no right of return. It is a way, and I think we found
a formula which I hope will lead to solve this very sensitive
issue. Because you have to understand there is no way to reach
an agreement that on our side that will be a no right of return
to Palestinians, and from the Palestinian side a wish for a right
of return. So we have to go into a very sensitive formula, but
the bottom line, I know there are a lot of arguments, but trust
me, we checked it with a lot of professional people in international
law. It is well written; every citizen in Israel, and of course
you, will be able to read exactly the document and there is no
right of return.
The fourth principle and achievement is involvement, international
involvement in the Old City, in the holy places, controlling
the Palestinian state will stay demilitarized and many other
The Fifth: the permanent borders will be basically the 67
line; exceptions about 2.5% of the land behind the Green Line
will stay under Israeli rule, we will have to give 2.5% in another
place so the idea, the principle is one-to-one. It means that
75% of the Jews that live now on the other side of the Green
Line will be able to stay in their homes, which will become under
As I said the Palestinian state will be demilitarized. A lot
of security measures like a lot of strongholds and many other
things to do.
The next one is very important: There is a door open, as it
was mentioned in the Arab Initiative what is known as the Saudi
Initiative. There is a door to the other Arab countries after
we reach agreement with the Palestinians to recognize the state
of Israel, to open formal relations with the state of Israel.
It is not just a door; I know that the Jordanians and Egyptians
are talking about it. Both of them are very very pro and support
the initiative, they are not able to say it now officially, but
they are involved since the beginning. By the way, when we went
to Jordan for 3 days of trying to conclude, which was successful,
the Egyptians wanted very much that we would come to Egypt, not
to Jordan. So Yossi Beilin had to fly immediately to Egypt to
relax them and to say well we will brief you, you are part of
it. Because I think its very important that these two countries
will lead the Arab world, once the agreement will be implemented,
to come to a conclusion, of this big conflict.
And as I said before the final so important issue is that
it is the end of the conflict. It is written in the agreement
that no other claims can be on the floor after it will be signed.
It is the end of the refugee status, for example UNRWA will be
dismantled it will no longer be necessary. As I said before this
agreement is instead of all the resolutions - 194 338 242 and
What is behind the Geneva? What is the next step? The next
step first of all is to motivate the public opinion in Israel.
Not just to motivate but to mobilize the Israeli people, to say
well that's a strong agenda. We will start I hope in less than
2 weeks. We will send every address in Israel the booklet, which
is 45 pages, it will be probably more because it will be a smaller
edition, the size will be smaller than full page, with all the
maps, and everything will be written. By the way the English
edition is the official one. But we are now translating to Hebrew
and Arabic. And both parties have to confirm the translation
is ok. As I said before, we know from the past that you have
to go through this process - that there will not be someone saying,
"I read the Arabic version and it is completely different
what they are talking to their people!" Of course motivating
or mobilizing the Israeli public opinion is the most important
thing. But the politicians that are part of this group, which
is more civil society idea. Informal groups the politicians will
take it to the political arena, because without politics, without
making it a party agenda, there is no way of course to implement
it later on. We hope, and we are saying to government "take
the model, use it!" If not exactly as written, but the idea!
We'll be very happy if it will happen, I doubt it. But then we
will have to work very hard that it will become the agenda of
the majority of the people of Israel for next election.
The international partnership is very important. You probably
know that one of the leading forces behind it is the Foreign
Minister, which is a lady, from Switzerland. She didn't even
back off after the government of Israel and the Foreign Minister
of Israel called the Ambassador of Switzerland in Israel and
said very tough words to him. They are backing this agreement.
They even guarantee supporting financially because we will need
a lot of money in order to campaign in Israel. And many other
European countries are behind it, some of them are not able officially
to say it, but they were participating in the negotiations along
the last few months, including Japan, not just European countries.
And it's very important for us, even that we are being criticized
in Israel - "what are you going to Europe? Europe is against
us. You have to start at home." Its nonsense. Its nonsense
it is important that we are part of the open and free world,
even being isolated today. And I think that we have to do it.
I personally visited Switzerland more than two times and Brussels
in the EU and it is very important that they will be with us.
I want to say a few words about the fence. I was one of the
people that was for the fence in the beginning. I think that
the fence is a very important idea an important solution to secure
the State of Israel from terrorists like those who commit suicide
in buses and restaurants. But the implementation and the way
the government is doing it, I'm looking for a word - in Hebrew
I have a lot, but in English, a catastrophe! We have to fight
against the idea of the government is building a fence like it
is doing now. The original idea was that it would serve as a
security fence and not a political border, and that the best
place was approximately the Green Line, which could be accepted
by both sides. But the government and Sharon, which objected
to the idea in the beginning, accepted it in the end because
of pressure from the people, the public, but took it completely
to the wrong direction. So the idea of securing the people of
Israel will not be achieved because the fence as they are going
to build it, will not give security. This is the fact: We will
pour millions of dollars; we will cause and evoke a lot of unrest
on the Palestinian side. We will raise more world and moral objections
against use. We -the Jews - will put Palestinians into ghettos.
And nothing good can come out of it, even not security!
Now it is very important that the Jewish communities in the
United States will raise their voice. You know as I know, and
you are not alone - it is in Israel also, that the right wing
communities or organizations are much stronger; their voice is
much louder in the last few years, because of many reasons. But
now we have an agenda. And I think that what you are showing
to me and yourself today is very very important. And it means
that if we will work hard we can gain back at least part, an
important part, of the Jewish community's opinions here and Israel
to support the idea that there is an alternative, and to support
the idea that if we are not going in this direction, I already
mentioned all the risks that we will face in the future, not
just in Israel but every place else. And the risk to lose the
movement, the Zionist movement, is a real one. I must tell you
very honestly that I don't think that ever the State of Israel,
the idea of the Jewish democratic state was in danger as it is
now. It is so easy to understand when there is a danger of war.
It is not so easy to explain and to let people understand that
the real danger is today with what we are doing, or with what
we are not doing - not initiating something in order to change
the situation. Therefore as it was in the past we have to join
forces, even that you don't have the right to vote in Israel.
But you have the right to say loud and clear - because we are
partners - it is not just the Israeli state, it is the state
of the Jewish people, and you have the right - you have the duty!
- to say loud and clear, to stand on your own two feet and to
be partner in this struggle for the benefit of the State of Israel.
To sum up, as I said the situation is very very severe, very
very difficult, problematic. But we have alternatives. The situation
is reversible. You know an individual is allowed to think from
his belly, from his stomach: Revenge! No power! But government
responsibility must be to look beyond the horizon in order to
give answers maybe not for tomorrow, but for the day after tomorrow.
And we the Israelis are going to face very very difficult decisions
to make and we will have to do it; otherwise as I said, I don't
know what will happen.
And it is very ridiculous or absurd that those who are leading
today the state of Israel and claim they are nationalists, they
are patriots, in the name of empty slogans they are risking the
state of Israel. And I represent people who are not less patriotic.
In our group there is the former chief of general staff, other
high rank officers, writers, people that are coming from a lot
of other places in Israel. Each and everybody is a Patriot. I
was born in Israel and I lived and grew up with the country.
I served for 30 years in the Army 30 years in uniform and I am
very proud of it. And I was starting from being a tank driver,
and I finished my 30 years tour as a major general, being partner
in all the very important decisions and crossroads along the
last tens of years. I am not a leftist. I am not a rightist.
I am an Israeli. A patriot to my country and I believe the price
in a war is much more expensive then the price in peace.
I believe we were so brave in wars and in combat we are able
to be brave in taking risks in peace attempts and peace initiatives.
The existing of the state of Israel as a developing country,
Jewish democratic, with a moral base to what we are doing is
so important, and it is so important not just to Israelis but
to the Jewish world around Israel. We need you, you need us,
and I'm sure that with what I experienced here we will be able
to do it. Thank you very much.