WASHINGTON (May. 21)
The Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip must realize that they can achieve a solution to the their problems only by accepting the Israel peace initiative, not through violence, Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin said Sunday.
Israel must “deliver a clear-cut message to the Palestinians that through the use of violence they are not going to achieve anything beyond what the government of Israel has proposed to them,” Rabin said in an interview on CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation.”
Rabin was interviewed in New York before going to Washington later in the day for talks with the Bush administration. He is scheduled to meet Monday with Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Secretary of State James Baker.
Rabin said that, over the past two weeks, he has met with some 30 Palestinian leaders from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He told them that for the past 50 years they have chosen leaders who demand “everything or nothing.”
“As a result of which they have remained with nothing,” he said. “They have to start to think in terms of the reality of the region, to move gradually from nothing” toward an interim arrangement and a permanent solution.
“Let’s start to achieve something, to build confidence, not by the use of force, but negotiations,” he said.
Rabin denied that Israel’s increasing use of harsh moves to put down the Palestinian uprising in the territories is aimed at forcing the Palestinians to accept the proposal for elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
He said Israel is offering peace, but at the same time, it has to react against the violence initiated against Israel.
“What do you want from us, to run away from stones and petrol bombs?” he asked.
“I believe that the problem today is not a question of violence, it is a question to what extent the Palestinians in the territories will not be threatened, intimidated by the PLO in Tunisia not to accept what Israel has offered,” he said.