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Barak: 'The Test Will Lie in the Implementation'

Aired October 17, 2000 - 7:37 a.m. ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to now to some live coverage of a press conference, an impromptu press conference, being held by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

QUESTION (through translator): Prime Minister, during the last two weeks, as far as possible, we've looked at the situation and there never seems to have been as great a gap between you and Chairman Yasser Arafat?

EHUD BARAK, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): As I said before, the test will lie in the implementation, and I suggest to everyone, including the correspondent, that you look less at gestures and more at action actually on the ground. Everything will be examined according to how it is implemented, both in terms of what the Palestinians do and evaluate, and also as far as our own action.

QUESTION (through translator): Mr. Barak, the statement by President Clinton said that, given the events of the last two weeks, there is no point as yet going back to negotiations. Do you intend to leave your future partners with a question mark or do you intend to go back to Israel and carry on with your preparations to establish a government of national unity or national emergency?

BARAK (through translator): I think that national unity and national emergency governments are absolutely vital at this current stage. I have spoken to Ariel Sharon several times during the conference, and I told everyone in the conference that the Likud is a perfectly legitimate party and a very important movement in Israel, and that we have no problem whatsoever involving it and all other parties which are interested in achieving security and peace in an Israeli government.

On the other hand, it is absolutely true that the Americans have said that, in the next two weeks, they will examine the situation and see whether there is a possibility, and if so, on what basis of restarting negotiations.

I don't think that will delay any establishment of a national unity government, unity is very, very important for us, and I don't right now want to say anything about what will happen in the future.

QUESTION (through translator): Political negotiations, it has been said, have come to an end now, the current Palestinian partnership -- or leadership is not a suitable partner. Have you change your view about this? And what do the Americans think who, over the next two weeks will have to see with you, if they are prepared to re-examine things with you?

BARAK (through translator): With regard to partner or not partner, the developments will determine whether or not we have a suitable partnership. We are talking about a major change in reality that has to come about. If it does come about, then this will require us to think things through again. We're not automated, and we are not idiots. If it turns out that this situation, where there is no partner, carries on. Then we'll know what to do.

As in any other situation, I believe that this reality has not occurred without asking and understanding of what we have gone through. The last two weeks have left their imprint on our memory, on our consciousness, and we will act cautiously.

The Americans have made their position very clear. The next two weeks will be a period during which they will be checking out to what extent it is possible to re-establish contact.

QUESTION (through translator): You came to Sharm after more than two weeks of major, very serious events in Israel, including the lynching of our students. Do you think that Arafat will manage to quiet down the grass roots? do you really, really believe that he will manage to do this?

BARAK (through translator): We don't get involved in guesses or popular psychology. I'm telling you, we don't engage in popular psychology or guessing -- conjecture. Any conjecture can have an influence on results, not necessarily positively. We know that we now have American involvement in checking out actual results, and we will ensure security for all Israeli citizens. Even TV correspondents have an interest in the violence coming to an end. So I would like to ask you to stop cooking us here in the sun.

QUESTION (through translator): There are two things you really, really wanted, which was the collecting of the illegal arms and having the Hamas people go back to where they belong. We didn't hear anything about that.

BARAK (through translator): These two things are part of the existing agreement, and we obviously expect all agreements that exist between us and them should be implemented.

I don't want to stipulate every single detail here. We have different positions, Israeli, Palestinian, American, but the test of any agreement is in its implementation. If we do find the violence declining, that will be an excellent thing; if it doesn't, then we will know what to do. There are many ways of reducing violence and we know what to do unfortunately.

HARRIS: We have been listening, as you can see there, to an impromptu press conference being held by the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, who is apparently leaving the meetings this morning, that summit is being held at Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. Displaying a bit of mistrust and a little good humor there as well, which is quite interesting, considering the mood going into the meetings this morning.

Repeatedly, the prime minister says that the test of any agreement is going to be the implementation of any cease-fire and cessation of hostilities by the Palestinians.

You're looking now at Air Force One. President Clinton apparently on his way out of the country now. We understand he is going to be leaving there and is going to be going on his way to a memorial service for the 17 sailors who were killed in that blast on the USS Cole. We watch as the plane prepares to take off out of Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt.

We understand that also the Israelis are saying, this is Ehud Barak talking this morning, that they are quite happy to have some American involvement in the checking of the results of anything that happens. And they said the last two weeks of violence has left an imprint on our, speaking for Israeli, memories and consciousness.

Of course, we'll have more on this as it develops throughout the morning, much more to come just ahead.



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