Statements by Director General Kimche Regarding the Israel-Lebanon Agreement
(May 17, 1983)
Two separate ceremonies marked the signing of the Israel-Lebanon Agreement. In the early hours of the morning the Arabic and French copies of the Agreement were signed in Khalde by Mr. Fattal, Dr. Kimche and Ambassador Draper. Later the Hebrew and English versions were signed in Kiryat Shmona. Following are the statements delivered by Dr. Kimche, the Director General of the Israel Foreign Ministry, on both occasions.
1. In Khalde
Israel and Lebanon are today reaching the end of long and difficult negotiations in which both our countries, with the active help of the United States, sought to create a new relationship between us. For more than four months we have moved forward, slowly but surely, towards our goal: The goal of peace in place of war, the goal of friendship in place of hostility, the goal of security in place of instability and violence. These are our cherished objectives, these are the directives which have guided us during these protracted talks in Khalde, Kiryat Shmona and Netanya.
Today, as we meet in the capacity of negotiating,- teams for the last times, I feel that these aims have been well served. I know that the signatures that we have affixed on the Agreement are just the beginning of a new chapter in our histories, that many obstacles still stand in our paths, and that there are many who would wish to render the agreement we are signing meaningless. I would like to say to all those who castigate this Agreement and who see peace as a betrayal of their cause: You cannot go against the will of the people, and the people of Lebanon, who have proven their strength of determination by maintaining their independent character from the times of the Phoenicians, are in favor of this Agreement, just as our people are.
The people of Lebanon know better than anyone else what had been the situation in their country just one year ago: A capital divided, with a deadly green line dividing the two halves; a people suffering under the yoke of foreign occupying forces, without hope of freeing themselves from the oppression to which they were being subjected; a terrorist organization establishing a state within a state, breeding instability, violence, death and destruction.
This is now all changing, and we are the first to wish the Lebanon a full and complete restoration of its sovereignty and independence, with a strong central Government imposing its authority over all its territory. This return to sanity and to stability can only come about if the terms of the Agreement are about to sign are scrupulously upheld; the alternative would truly be tragic.
Mr. Chairman, our country is committed to a policy of peace with our neighbors. How many times has our Prime Minister called from the rostrum of the Knesset to our neighbors to come and talk peace, our only condition being that there be no pre-conditions? We proved our commitment, to peace last year, when despite many sceptical prognoses to the contrary, we withdrew from Sinai on April 25 and fulfilled our promise to the letter. We are proving the same commitment again today, at this signing ceremony. We have said all along that we do not covet a single square centimeter of Lebanese territory, that it is our desire to pull out troops out as soon as possible. Again, there were many sceptics, but while we are here talking peace, what are the others doing?
Yasser Arafat, during his visit to the Bekaa this week, declared that the way to go forward was by war - war by all the Arab countries in order to change the political map of our region. As for the President of Syria, let him show his concern for the Lebanese people, for Lebanese independence and sovereignty by withdrawing his army from Lebanese territory and allowing peace to reign once again on its soil.
We must not allow the spoilers and their enemies of peace to have their way. Far too long they have marred the beauty of the Land of the Cedars, and we expect you to make very effort to get them out.
We have all made great efforts to bring about this Agreement, and both you and we are taking risks. But both Lebanon and Israel have a great deal to gain from this Agreement, and I am confident that neither of us will ever have cause to regret our act today. I would, though, like to say a word about the third country represented here today -the United States, and to express our gratitude for the tireless efforts of Ambassador Draper and his entire delegation, to Ambassador Habib and to Secretary Shultz, all of whom contributed greatly to the successful conclusion of our talks.
We know how much you wanted this Agreement to be attained, and we know how much you did to bring it about. We all owe you a very great debt. I would like also to add that I consider it a great honor to have represented my country at these negotiations; and, Mr. Chairman, a pleasure to have worked with you personally and with the members of the delegation of Lebanon. The many meetings we had together have heightened the feelings of respect and admiration that I had already felt for Lebanon. Let us hope the work we have done together over these past months will have laid the foundations of a strong and lasting bond of friendship between our two countries. This is our destiny, and it will come about despite the contrary words of politicians.
Mr. Chairman, we are, as you know, an ancient people, conscious of our past heritage which lives on with us. We had, as you know, excellent relations in the past with Hiram, King of Tyre, and with Lebanon in general. I would like to end my words with a passage from the book of Kings, which I believe is particularly apt today: "And the Lord, gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him; and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and the two of them made a treaty." Thank you.
2. Kiryat Shmona
When you first came to Kiryat Shmona four months ago, you were offered bread and salt in our tradition greeting to honored and welcome gusts, and the children of this town lined the streets holding placards with the word 'Shalom'. Today, the people of Kiryat Shmona and indeed all of Israel once more greet you here with the word Shalom, for it is peace that we desire, especially with the people of Lebanon against whom we have never felt any animosity or ill-feeling. It is fitting that here, here in Kiryat Shmona, which suffered so much in the past, we should be signing this document which brings to an end the state of war between us and lays the foundation for a new era of peace and good-neighborliness between our countries.
But I must be true to the good citizens of this town and voice their anxieties as well. They know, more than all of us, why we were forced to enter Lebanon nearly a year ago in order to do away with, once and for all, the constant danger to the citizens of Galilee. As we sign this document of peace here today, we must remember the reasons which led us to the Peace for Galilee operation and to the negotiating table; and we in Israel, let us remember the heavy sacrifice we had to pay in order to remove that military infrastructure of a terrorist organization dedicated to our destruction. We shall never allow such a threat to be poised once again against the citizens of Kiryat Shmona or anywhere else in our country, and we hope and pray that the terms of this Agreement that we are signing today will help to prevent such a possibility in the future.
We, in Israel, are proving our good faith and our desire for peace, to see a strong and independent Lebanon as our neighbor. But what of the Syrians? Will they follow suit, or will they try to remain as an occupying power in Lebanon, continuing, together with the P.L.O., to oppress and subjugate the people? Here lies the test, the real test, regarding the intentions of Syria - and, indeed, of the entire Arab world - towards Lebanon.
We call on all those who wish peace for our region and peace for the Lebanon to use all their influence to achieve a speedy withdrawal of the terrorists and of the Syrian forces. We, on our part, guarantee to leave Lebanon as soon as our prisoners and our missing and the remains of those who fell are returned, and as soon as the P.L.O. and the Syrians quit Lebanese territory; and the sooner this happens, the better, as far as we are concerned. The longer the P.L.O. terrorists and the Syrians remain, the longer it will take for Lebanon to rehabilitate itself. The onus for that will be entirely on the heads of the P.L.O. and Syria.
I must say to our Lebanese colleagues that we praise and appreciate the determination and the steadfastness shown by President Jemayel in the face of threats and pressures. The fact that the Lebanese Parliament voted unanimously in favor of the Agreement is ample evidence, in our opinion, that the people of Lebanon are in favor of developing relations with Israel. It is our hope that they will continue to stand firm in the face of the threats of those who prefer war to peace, violence to stability, who would rather see a Lebanon torn and divided than a country strong and united.
To the people of Kiryat Shmona, to all of Israel and to the people of Lebanon, I want to end with the well-known blessing of the priests of old, a blessing appearing in the book of Numbers and which will be read this coming Sabbath in all our synagogues: "The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace."
Source: Israeli Foreign Ministry