|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy
Press Remarks following their meeting at the Foreign Ministry
Jerusalem, June 6, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
FOREIGN MINISTER LEVY (in Hebrew): We would like to first and foremost mention the efforts put in by the Secretary of State to come here with the ambition to assist the different sides in order to advance towards an agreement. Unfortunately, regrettably, there are difficulties and it requires much work. Israel also wants, as is only natural, to be convinced of the fact that also the Palestinian side wishes to advance to an agreement and go forward to the permanent status agreement which requires still much work. I would like also to mention the great satisfaction the continued cooperation between the United States and Israel in all the subjects, and the Secretary's special efforts also in the matter of Lebanon, I would also like to mention the fact that there was full coordination with the United Nations, also with the cooperation of the IDF receiving instructions by the political level, in order to see the government of Lebanon fulfilling its part in the agreement in sending their troops to the southern part of Lebanon and imposing its sovereignty. It has an opportunity that for the first time in many years for rehabilitating its country and for the return of tranquility, which is also in our interest.
As to the continuing of the peace process, Israel extended its warm hand for peace and as to other parties, they will need to prove their determination to go forward in the peace process. Peace can be attained only without any threats of any kind. It can be attained only through hard work, and faith, when both sides believe in the value of peace. It must be a joint effort, with the assistance of the United States and we will save no efforts in this effort. Not only one side can attain this. It must be done when all sides involved show the same effort and faith that Israel is demonstrating. Israel takes upon itself risks in order to attain the peace. No one can attain the peace when we have threats, that are maybe directly, direct threats or non direct-threats. What we require now is the language of peace. We hope that all sides will show this and reveal this side. On the fifteenth of this month we witnessed violence and use of weapons and firing on our soldiers. This is a very severe occurrence and we cannot accept such a situation. We would like to see the Palestinian Authority taking all the steps in order to make sure that such an occurrence will never happen again and also that those who were involved in these matters will come to their punishment.
I would like to reiterate and emphasize our work with the Secretary of State was based on mutual respect and good counsel, despite difficult times, with full coordination and cooperation. That is how we attained achievements in the United Nations, in Europe and in different aspects in different fields around the globe. I would like to thank her for her care and for her dealing with the different matters and also in the peace process we know the difficulties but she continues with faith and with perseverance of her faith and her friendship towards us which are unique to our special relationship between Israel and the United States.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think it is very clear that Foreign Minister Levy and I have had an excellent meeting in which we were able to discuss a full range of issues. We obviously did talk about the success in terms of the withdrawal from Lebanon and the very courageous move that the Barak government has taken by, in fact withdrawing its forces. Obviously, the situation will continue to require our attention, and we will continue to work together and to work with the United Nations. We also congratulated each other on the fact that Israel is now a member of the Western European and Others Group in the United Nations. Now Israel does, in fact, have a home at the United Nations, something that it has not had for the last half century.
We also did obviously spend time talking about the Israeli-Palestinian track, and the fact that we are at a moment of truth when it is necessary for us all to roll up our sleeves and work. The United States is prepared to help, but ultimately, the hard decisions have to be made by the parties themselves. We want to be there to help. As I mentioned when I was with Chairman Arafat, President Clinton has invited the Chairman to come to Washington next week, and we hope also that the negotiations will be able to continue as quickly as possible. As I have said, also, I would like to repeat again that neither side will be able to have a hundred percent of what it wants. But the Palestinian and Israeli track is at the core of the issues to achieve a comprehensive peace, and we want to see as much work and dedication given to this as possible. It is something that the United States cares about, because the people of this region care about peace so deeply. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, there aren't. The only thing that I announced there was the fact that Chairman Arafat was coming to Washington to meet with President Clinton. As you know, the President had the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Barak in Lisbon last week. We also now think it's important for the negotiators from both sides to come to our region, and be able to begin some negotiations, but there are no plans for a summit next week.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We are taking it one step at a time here. We have work to do, and, as I said, and as the Foreign Minister said, there is a lot of work to be done. It can be done. We need to really press on. Everybody needs to give this their full attention.
FOREIGN MINISTER LEVY (in Hebrew): Indeed there are difficulties, with no progress. We are not close to an agreement. The Palestinian side must prove that it is truly interested in a final settlement. I hope that these things are transient, that the Palestinians understand well the meaning and the opportunity to finally reach an agreement. It is impossible to go in circles. It is impossible to hear from Israel all the time up to what point it is willing to go, without Israel directly receiving the simple answer: we want to get to an agreement; the value of peace demands the language of peace, and in order to reach an agreement, both sides must demonstrate not only resolve for the idea of peace but also readiness to compromise each on his side. As the Secretary of State said, no one side can expect that only the other side will make compromises. Therefore, the test that is before us now, we expect to see really the Palestinian side demonstrating flexibility and also readiness for compromise, and also readiness to reach an agreement, an agreement that will be reached this year. That is our hope.
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