Press Release (14 February 2001)

Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Barak said today that he "expects the world to act to influence the Palestinian Authority and its leader in order to put a halt to the terror and violence." Ambassador Nasser Al-Kidwa, Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations, made the following comments in response:

Yesterday, the same Mr. Barak sent his "heartfelt congratulations" to the army for yet another assassination of a Palestinian man, stating that this policy would in fact continue. These remarks by Mr. Barak effectively make him the only public official in the world who officially condones the crime of extra-judicial killing and clearly lead to further violence. In addition to the statement by Mr. Barak, a barrage of statements have been made by Israeli officials, including the Foreign Ministry Director-General, the trio dispatched to Washington, D.C., and another envoy dispatched to Paris. These statements spoke of "Palestinian violence", attacked President Yasser Arafat, and attempted to place responsibility on the Palestinian side for the deterioration of the situation. Such pre-peace process tactics and positions only further underscore the insistence by the Israeli side to ignore the real reason for the conflict: the existence of the Israeli occupation and the military violence carried out by the Israeli army and Israeli settlers against the Palestinian people.

Unfortunately, these statements have been coupled with statements made by the Prime Minister-elect, Mr. Ariel Sharon, as well as in the so-called negotiated guidelines for the proposed coalition government between the Israeli Likud and Labor parties, making it clear that the aim of the government will be negotiating "interim agreements". That basically amounts to discarding the existing agreements, burying the current peace process, and not even attempting to have an alternative. The existing agreements mandate the end of the interim period and the conclusion of a final settlement between the two sides. The agreements do not allow for a perpetual transitional period. Mr. Sharon and Mr. Barak well know that negotiations aimed at imposing yet another interim agreement cannot be accepted by the Palestinian people and their leadership.

We are very concerned at the serious situation unfolding, wherein the Israeli side is destroying the peace process and the potential for a final settlement and is causing further deterioration of the situation on the ground by using more lethal force and other methods against the Palestinian people.