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FM Silvan Shalom and US Sen. John McCain Meet

Joint press conference with FM Silvan Shalom and US Sen. John McCain


Jerusalem - Communicated by the foreign minister's media adviser

Q: Did you discuss the security fence in the meeting and can there be agreement between the parties?

McCain: We discussed it at some length. It is important to the security of the State of Israel and it was also raised between President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon. Many of us in congress feel it is an important contributor to the reduction of acts of terrorism. The Oslo accord failed because it was based on the premise that the Palestinian and Israeli peoples could live peacefully together. The security fence will test whether they can live peacefully apart.

There will be further negotiations on the exact geographic location of the fence that can be agreed upon by both parties.

The United States is happy to consult and advise, but the people that determine the security of the state of Israel is the Government of Israel.

Q: Should the fence be linked to loan guarantees?

McCain: I absolutely do not think so.

Q: For the foreign minister, why is Israel handing over more cities if the Palestinians are not fulfilling their commitments?

Shalom: Both parties should implement their commitments. One of ours is withdrawing to the place we stood on September 29, 2000. We are trying to do that. At the same time, we ask the Palestinians to implement their commitments to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism, to confiscate illegal weapons and to put an end to incitement of all kinds.

Every city we withdraw from - it means that the Palestinians give a commitment that no violence or terrorism will emanate from those cities.

McCain: The government of Israel has gone the extra mile. What we have all learned is that unless the process moves forward, it moves backward. If terrorism continues, the process may unravel.

Shalom: We are not going to move from Phase I to Phase II unless we see full implementation from the Palestinian side.

Q: Do you think the Palestinians will even give an extra inch?

McCain: [inaudible] How much real authority does Mr. Abbas have? How much remains in Arafat's hands? We have heard that there was a meeting between Arafat and those responsible for last week's attacks, prior to the attacks. How much authority does the present government have?

Shalom: I think Arafat is undermining Abu Mazen's [Abbas's] regime and he has given signals to the Palestinians to continue their "struggle" and that means a green light to continue terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.

Arafat is still there and he is still doing everything to ensure that Abu Mazen not succeed. Why? Because if Abu Mazen successfully stops terrorism, the world will ask Arafat why he couldn't do it over the past 10 years.

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