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Israel Willing to Discuss Peace, but Only After War, Shamir Says

February 19, 1991
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel is willing to discuss peace initiatives for the postwar period, but not until the fighting in the Persian Gulf has ended, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir indicated Sunday.

In an address to the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel, which is meeting in Jerusalem, the premier said, “We are ready–even anxious–to engage in peace talks at the appropriate time. But who can tell what the Middle East and the Gulf region will look like after the war?”

“What kind of Iraq will there be? what will be the fate of Jordan? What will be Syria’s role in this war? What will be the fate of Arab governments that are experiencing the trauma of war between Arab countries?” he asked.

Given these uncertainties, he said, “I submit that we should concentrate first on achieving the objectives of the Gulf war. Then, hopefully, we will be able to embark on the road to negotations and peace, in a better climate.”

Shamir stressed, however, that the international community should have learned some lessons from the war that could be applied to the Middle East peace process. Among them, he said, are that the Palestine Liberation Organization, “Saddam Hussein’s staunchest ally, has been totally discredited as a factor for peace.”

Shamir assailed the “proliferation of nonconventional and conventional weapons in this region,” saying they are “a disastrous consequence of the unscrupulous policies of many industrial states.

“We hope that the international community will, at the earliest opportunity, revise their policy regarding the supply of sophisticated military equipment to non-democratic regimes in the Middle East, such as Iraq, ” he said.


The prime minister described Israel’s domestic priorities, which he said should be addressed right a way. He spoke of “the reconstruction of the areas damaged by the Scud missiles” and revival of the suffering tourist industry.

But above all, he said, “we must apply ourselves to the absorption of the biggest aliyah in our history. Before the war, it looked like a million Soviet olim would arrive within three or four years.” Now, he said, it may take “another year or two.”

Shamir expressed appreciation for “the special efforts of the fund-raising organizations in the Operation Exodus campaign” to resettle Soviet Jews in Israel.

“But these are extraordinary times, “he said. “I am sure that you will use this occasion to plan for an Operation Exodus II to be launched as soon as possible.”

“I appeal to you to double and treble your efforts– even more– for this great common cause,” he said.

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