Remarks by Ambassador Shoval at Georgetown University Washington, D.C.
March 4, 1991
AMBASSADOR SHOVAL: Thank you very much. And thank you all for coming here. And I want to thank especially my good old friend, real old friend, Dr. Sprinzak whose timing was wonderful. You know he timed this exactly to be a few days after the end of the war, two days before the visit of Secretary Baker to the Middle East — perfect, perfect! (Laughter.)
Now, I understand the subject, the topic of my talk tonight is Israel- American relations after the Gulf crisis. And I guess this is a heading as good as any. And I will talk about Israel-American relations and I will also digress a little bit and speak about other questions which have, of course, a relation, a connection with that but pertain to the Middle East perhaps as a whole.
But before the Gulf crisis, if we can think back four or five or six months ago, there was a perception, if you’ll remember, of an eroding or deteriorating relationship between America and Israel. And I say "perception" because the facts, the reality were probably much more favorable, but in politics and in diplomacy perceptions sometimes create reality.
Now, I believe a change has occurred, a very positive change has occurred over the last few months, which does not necessarily mean that exactly the same sort of relationship which we have enjoyed over the last few months will necessarily continue the same way on the same level, let’s say, as they were this month, last month, three months ago. However, I do believe that relations between the two countries and the two governments will certainly continue on a higher level that they were before the crisis.
I’ve often been asked whether the honeymoon between Israel and America, the honeymoon which evolved during the Gulf crisis was ending, or was approaching an end. And I didn’t even accept the question, let alone the answer, because I never thought that the relationship between two so-close countries and peoples like America and Israel was in the nature of a honeymoon, which after all is relatively short. And I think the relationships — pre-honeymoon, honeymoon, post-honeymoon — are going to continue to be strong, loyal, and long-lasting. Now, the end of the Cold War — let’s all hope that there really has been a permanent end to the Cold War — was thought to have brought about an era free of war all over the world. It has not, but it has changed the character of the enemies. As far as the Middle East is concerned, or parts of the Middle East at least, replacing the Soviet enemy there is Islamic fundamentalism, there is sometimes — as we have just witnessed — military nationalism, extreme nationalism in parts of the Arab world, both very, very much anti-West and both not necessarily — strange as it may sound — mutually exclusive. Again, as we have seen at least in parts of the recent conflict.
Now all this in a very crucial area. There are probably similar conflicts in other parts of the world from different — for different reasons. But if we talk about the Middle East, we speak about an area in which most of the world’s oil reserves are located. And I know there was a slogan in this country, "No Blood For Oil," and I’m not going to express an opinion about that, but oil is a very important thing. Oil means energy, growth, industry, livelihood for most of the world, and most of the world, especially Africa, the Third World, Europe, the Far East, parts of America, are dependent on Middle East oil, so it was not some sort of insignificant side issue.
Now, in the context of the war which has just ended — and I know not everybody will agree with me, but let me say or let me just make a side remark — if Israel had handed over the territories, the West Bank, either to some sort of PLO-led Palestinian entity, or even to Jordan led by King Hussein, we would have had an Iraq by proxy, by extension, not hundreds of kilometers or hundreds of miles away, but ten minutes form the center of Tel Aviv, one and a half minutes from Ben Gurion Airport, one and a half seconds from the center of Jerusalem, and so on, and so forth. Not to mention that the United States would have had to concentrate its military forces not just in the Persian Gulf, in the east and southeastern part of the Arabian peninsula, but also in the western part in the eastern Mediterranean. It wouldn’t have been a one- front war, it probably would have been a two-front war.
After having said that however, and not contradicting it, I also want to say that for this very reason, namely the central pivotal aspect of security involved in our need to maintain a presence on the West Bank, I could imagine that Israel might feel a lot easier about accommodating some of the aspirations of the Palestinian Arabs in the territories once the Arab states surrounding Israel would follow Egypt’s example in establishing peace with Israel, and the time is now. No opportunity for peace in the area should be neglected even where a country like Syria is concerned.
But on the other hand, mistakes should not be repeated either, mistakes which not so long ago induced some people to believe that Iraq had all of a sudden become a moderate or pragmatic state. After all, when President Assad if Syria wrote Saddam Hussein on the 12th of January, four or five days before the war, that he and Saddam — I quote — "shared the same human values," he may only have spoken the truth.
Now turning back to the U.S.-Israel relationship if we look at it historically, the Six Day War — now I understand there’s a Four-Day War, so somebody has even caught up with us — (laughter) — but the Six-Day War — let me just say I am not a military expert, although most of us in Israel are of course military experts, — (laughter) — but I must say as an Israeli, we are full of admiration the way this war was run — was managed — full of admiration for the United States and her coalition partners.
Anyway, the Six-Day War historically was a great watershed in U.S. attitudes towards Israel — U.S. official attitudes towards Israel. America quickly grasped the importance of a very powerful ally in the Middle East. Over the years Israel has received considerable and very welcome military aid, in addition to civilian aid, of course, from the U.S.. Defense grants, military defense grants have amounted to about $18 billion over the years. Most of this aid comes in the form of FMS, which means foreign military sales credit program, which entails setting up credit lines to purchase weapons, almost all in the U.S.. These amounts, although very large, are small in comparison to the funds — to the sums channeled, for instance, to NATO or to the defense of the Far East, with one big difference, however; Israel did not and does not require the participation of American soldiers in her defense. We never want American or any other foreign soldier to shed his blood or to risk his life for the defense of Israel.
On the other hand, just to give a full picture, the total amount of intelligence data, for instance, mainly on various Soviet weapon systems, which Israel provided until 1985 alone to the United States, was estimated by the former chief of U.S. Air Force intelligence to have been worth something between 50 [billion dollars] to $80 billion. Now it’s very difficult to quantify, nor should it be necessary to quantify. But this mutuality in the strategic relationship between the two countries I believe is exactly as it should be and I believe will continue to be. I think, therefore, that the strategic aspect of the alliance between the United States and Israel will be enhanced after this war and not reduced. Whatever the importance of temporary coalitions one thing must be absolutely clear: real, long lasting relationships can only exist between democratic countries only where public will, where public opinion supports them and where democracy assures stability and continuity.
By the way, it is an interesting historical aspect, an interesting historical reflection — the Camp David agreements were mentioned before — that it may be the Camp David agreements of 12 years ago, including the fact of Israel giving up all of Sinai and the oil and so on and so forth, which created the political reality without which America’s present activity in the Middle East and its relationship with Egypt, for instance, and perhaps with other parts of the Arab world would not have been imaginable.
There are, of course, other lessons to be learned from the war. I won’t go into all of them, but one I think is quite interesting. Some U.S. senior officers have said that Desert Storm has demonstrated that the U.S. was dangerously short of cargo ships and planes to get troops and their weaponry from the U.S. to distant trouble spots in a hurry. Now, no more trouble spot would be more troubling than the Gulf area. Thus, one conclusion perhaps to be learned from this present situation, that it would be worthwhile for America to maintain, to preposition in Israel in a user-friendly atmosphere, as we sometimes hear on television, American war materials of much greater volume than before.
As I have already said, conventional wisdom, at least until very recently when events in the Soviet Union began to dampen somewhat our original optimism, but still, the general view was that the Soviet Union no longer an active or at least not an anti-western player in the Middle East, the American-Israeli strategic alliance supposedly aimed specifically at the potential Soviet threat had lost its relevance. I maintain, however, that any realistic analysis of what the future may hold in the Middle East must lead us to the conclusion that though some aspects of the strategic relationship will change the relationship itself will not become redundant.
Ladies and gentlemen, would I ever be far from true to speak of the relations between America, Americans, Israel, Israelis only or even principally in strategic terms? There’s a great deal more involved. Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East and America is committed to the existence of democracy. And we all hope that just as America has been very successful, relatively successful certainly, in promoting democracy in other parts of the world — Latin America, for instance; Eastern Europe to a certain extent — America will also make a major effort to promote democracy in our part of the world. I may be wrong, but I think I’m not. Wars have never broken out between two democracies. Just think a little bit whether in history — there are not so many democratic states around, unfortunately, but have there ever been wars between two genuine democratic regimes? I think not. So we in Israel, but certainly you in America, have a very strong interest in promoting democracy in our part of the world.
There’s the moral aspect. The Jewish state arose from the ashes of the holocaust as the natural answer to age-old anti-Semitism which had always been opposed by all American administrations of whichever party. And I suppose this is also coupled, at least in the minds of some, with a feeling of guilt aroused by the fact that had the West acted differently before and during World War II, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of Jewish lives might have been saved.
And I believe there was and still is American admiration, based on America’s own history and heritage, for Israel’s pioneering endeavor of making a largely desolate country bloom and flourish. And surprising to an Israeli coming to this country, the Bible is the common heritage of both peoples, and this seems to be a fact very dear to many Christian- Americans much more than we in Israel or many Europeans appreciate. And there is, of course, a further factor; Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union to Israel in which many Israelis and Americans rightly see one of the great historical and spiritual victories of the human spirit over generations-long despotism and adversity also belongs to this category of moral bonds and moral commitment of Americans towards Israel. But let’s turn back to the political picture. Israel’s victories in 1967 and 1973 — military victories — created almost 20 years of relative stability in the Middle East. They also brought about peace between Israel and Egypt. But they have not yet resulted in a more encompassing, comprehensive peace; paradoxically, the present conflict, the conflict which has just ended perhaps could.
Had Iraq, had Saddam Hussein been perceived in the Arab and Moslem worlds to have prevailed, to have been the victor, I believe he would have been the Arab hero who has stood up to America, and then the Arab and Moslem worlds would have entered the period of increasing and ongoing confrontation with the West, and certainly the chance for moderation among Palestinians would have disappeared or evaporated for a long time. But now, after Saddam Hussein has been defeated in such a way that it is evident, perhaps not yet to him but it will be, that he no longer constitutes a military or political force to be reckoned with, and that Arab leaders like Mubarak have been right, there may be some chance, slim as it is, for a more stable Middle East in the future.
The Arabs, like people everywhere, need leaders more than they need martyrs. Even the Nasser myth, although I would not compare Nasser to Saddam Hussein, but even the Nasser myth died after Egypt’s defeat in 1967 before Nasser himself died. And Saddam Hussein, even if he temporarily survives the catastrophe unleashed by him, neither he, the loser, nor Iraq will be able to reassume soon the mantle of Arab leadership. But who if any will? Syria may intend to, but Syria is distrusted by most Arabs, including most Palestinians, and she will not be elected by acclamation. Egypt, perhaps, but Egypt, whose wise and moderate policies will certainly be perceived by many in the Arab world to have been correct, will still be hindered from fulfilling a really effective leadership role by the fact of a very serious economic internal problems and a growing dependence on outside financial support. The North African Arab states — Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia — face major internal troubles not just from growing Moslem fundamentalism, but linked to that, also from horrific economic and social problems, and they will not be able to play any role or any significant role in shaping the post-war Arab world. Jordan, though never a candidate for Arab leadership, is going to come out of this a big loser. And although Israel and America probably prefer King Hussein to any other alternative, I do not see that Jordan will get a great deal of sympathy or support from the anti-Iraq Arab coalition members.
I’m mentioning all this not with a sense of happiness or glee, but in order to delineate, to describe on the one hand both the opportunities and the pitfalls of the new world order in the Middle East, and on the other hand, Israel’s continued, perhaps even enhanced position both in respect of the quest for stability in the region and with regard to the interests of the U.S. and the West there.
But as just about everybody has said, and this was really common wisdom, one thing is absolutely clear, it will not be the same Middle East that we knew before August the 2nd. But what sort of Middle East will it be? Will it just be a return to the status quo ante, the only difference being that the radical part of the Arab world threatening Israel’s safety will now be led by Syria, which was clever enough to get on the right side of this war, replacing Iraq, the loser? Will this situation be aggravated by the fact that after the war the quantity and quality of the arms in the Middle East will exceed anything we could have imagined in our worst dreams? Or will there be more effective controls of arms supplies, and particularly of non-conventional weapons or implements to manufacture such weapons to the region? Will Jordan, whatever its regime, be a confrontation state, or will it choose to play a constructive role in the peace process? Indeed, in my view it must, it must reassociate itself with the future of the Palestinians, a reality from which it cannot divorce itself anyway. We have just seen that, by virtue of the fact that almost 70 percent of all people living in Jordan are Palestinians. And indeed the single biggest concentration of Palestinians anywhere in the world live in Jordan. But the number one question, of course, is will the Palestinians finally understand that only with Israel and not against Israel can they achieve everything? All this means for sure that many of the ideas which have been floated in the past such as holding an international conference in order to achieve peace between Israel and its neighbors or that the PLO led by Yasser Arafat must play a role in the peace process will no longer be relevant.
Having mentioned the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, I believe it should be clear to anyone that it cannot — it cannot resume exactly at the point where it got bogged down last year. Furthermore, after Iraq’s aggression on Kuwait, there are few if any who still believe that the Palestinian problem is the only or even the main factor of instability in the Middle East.
By the way, most wars in the Middle East have broken out between Arabs and Arabs, between Moslems and Moslems, not between Arabs and Jews — something to reflect on. And consequently, there seems to be greater acceptance, including in this country and in the administration of this country, of Israel’s long-held view that in order to achieve some progress on the Palestinian question, progress which no one desires more than we do, Israel’s overall security concerns must first be alleviated by establishing peace between Israel and the Arab states, all of which except for Egypt are still in a state of war with Israel.
We believe the U.S. could and should and will play an active and constructive role in this, mainly by bringing the present Arab coalition partners to the table, to make them understand that now that the war has been won and their countries and regimes have come out of it all right, thanks to the United States, they will begin to realize that their real existential interests do not lie in ongoing warfare with Israel, as Sadat understood in 1977.
All this could perhaps be done in stages. And when there will be some concrete evidence that the Arab states really mean to end the state of war with Israel, Israel will outline in detail her ideas about settling the Palestinian question, starting, I would assume, from the Israeli government’s peace initiative of May 1989 in all its aspects. There are ideas floating around in this country and other countries, also in Israel, about confidence-building measures.
In the meantime, perhaps the Arab states, those in the coalition, do not want or think they cannot do a Sadat and immediately come and talk to Israel about peace agreements. We would preferred that; we would have liked that. But as a first step, in order to show where they are going, where the Middle East is going to go, the Arab states, allied with the United States of America, should immediately end the state of belligerency towards Israel. They could end the Arab boycott, which is still in force after all these years. And if I were an American, I would say if we are going to provide arms in the future to any Arab country in the area, we will not do that unless that country first comes to terms with the existence of Israel. Otherwise we may just create a situation which could in the future not serve peace but bring about new wars. One thing, however, I think must be clear, if we address the Palestinian problem. Whatever solution there will be, it will have to be based on compromise and not on the demand for total renunciation by the parties, by the respective parties involved, of all their interests and all their aspirations. Israel and the Zionist movement before that have proposed different formulas of compromise on at least six occasions since 1920. We were always repulsed. We were always rejected. Because the Palestinians, the Arabs in Palestine were led to believe by an extremist, unrealistic, often corrupted leadership that they must reject compromise, because if they did so, they will get everything at the end. Well, they got nothing. Perhaps there is a chance, a slight chance, that this may change now that they will discover that they have once again been deceived by their leaders or by their leaders allies.
Saddam Hussein, as Soviet diplomat Primakov reported, was so cynical even weeks ago, telling him that he didn’t care about the Palestinians at all, that this was just a ploy, as we all understood. But the Palestinians themselves were misled, and were deceived.
As you know, there are some Cassandras — or perhaps I shouldn’t use the term Cassandra because she was right, after all — but there are some who predict that now with the war over, the U.S. may be tempted to pacify so-called Arab resentment by sacrificing Israel’s vital interests, by leaning on Israel, I think the term is. I, for one, do not, did not and do not believe that, not only because this would be morally unacceptable to most of the people in this country, but no less important, this would also be totally self defeating from the point of view of America’s strategic and political interests in the region. And it would unavoidably, inevitably pave the way for other — for future Arab-Israeli wars because there are still some segments in the Arab world who would believe that an Israel which has lost the support of the United States is more vulnerable and could again be attacked. It would be a mistake, but we have seen things like that in the past, and we could see things like that in the future again.
I would like to say that I was encouraged by many of the statements of Secretary Baker over the last few weeks on the Hill, and again yesterday on television. Indeed, some of his ideas conform with our own way of thinking. We, too, believe that some of the most pressing problems in the Middle East, such as water or economic problems, or the environment, can only be addressed within a regional framework. All the water sources, Syria, Iraq to a certain extent, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, they are all interconnected, all interrelated. One country cannot really do its own game in harboring or in husbanding water resources or developing water resources without taking into account the needs and the requirements of its neighbors. So all these things really should be addressed within a regional framework. We, too, believe in arms control and arms reduction.
Now, this coalescence of views is heartening, and it will and it must help our two countries, Israel and America, to overcome some differences which may arise, which probably will arise on some subjects or views on which we do not coalesce. However, whatever these differences of opinion they will be overcome. Because after all has been said and done, I believe that neither country has a fully credible and reliable alternative to each other. Thank you very much. (Applause)
Q: Keeping in mind that honesty is a necessary ingredient in any dialogue, how do you rationalize your quote, "Iraq by proxy", unquote, comment in reference to a Palestinian state in the context of the fact that much of the popular support for Saddam Hussein was a product of the fact that Israel and the U.S. have refused to accept that there can be no lasting peace in the region until Palestinian self-determination is established with the leadership chosen by the Palestinian people?
AMB. SHOVAL: Well, you could accept that — you, I suppose — that the Palestinians acted the way they acted because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Could be. But we were told all these years that there was a moderate majority among Palestinians even in the PLO who wanted to coexist with Israel and these same so-called moderates applauded the sending of Scud missiles on Israel’s civilian population including the threat of chemical warfare and all of a sudden all thoughts and ideas and dreams of moderation were as if they never existed before.
We do not share that view in all honesty, and look at Jordan. We really believe that the Palestinians thought that Saddam Hussein was going to destroy Israel. Saddam Hussein said he was going to turn all of Israel into a crematorium and the Palestinians believed him, and applauded him, and cheered him on. I do not think that Israel could take the risk of having a Palestinian state in its very midst on which its security would depend — on the good will of which its security would depend.
After having said that, however, I would like to refer you to one passage in my speech which said that all parties to the conflict will have to make compromises. And all it takes to test us is for the Palestinians to come and sit down and discuss with us peace. That’s all. (Applause)
Q: I’m from the Jewish Committee for Israeli-Palestinian Peace, an eight-year-old group here in Washington that supports security for Israel and self-determination for the Palestinians. Before I ask my question, let me say that while our group has been extremely critical of Israeli policy in the past, most of us felt at one with Israel and her people when Scud missile attacks were falling on Israel. And I felt particularly concerned, because I used to live in Ramat Dan, the Tel Aviv suburb where Scud missiles attacked.
AMB. SHOVAL: They were looking for you there. (Laughter)
Q: (Laughing) — I’m over here. Now let me ask the question. You spoke tonight about a positive change in U.S.-Israeli relations that has evolved since the Gulf war started, and as you know, the United States is committed to the principle of exchanging land for peace as a basis the a settlement of the Arab-Israeli, Palestinian conflict. And this means, according to the United States, a willingness on Israel’s part to withdraw from all or most of the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights as part of a comprehensive peace settlement. My question is, is Israel willing to tell Secretary Baker when he arrives this week, that as a good faith gesture it’s willing to stop subsidizing Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip instead of agreeing only not to settle Soviet Jews in the territory?
AMB. SHOVAL: What’s the question?
Q: The question is, is Israel —
AMB. SHOVAL: Oh, Okay.
Q: Two things; first of all is your government committed to the principle of exchanging land for peace —
AMB. SHOVAL: Right. I will —
Q: — and is it willing —
AMB. SHOVAL: I will answer all of your questions to the best of my ability. I will start from the end.
Israel is not subsidizing in any way settlements on the West Bank or in Gaza. It’s not subsidizing them. It’s not preventing the Jewish people from settling there, just as we have about 750,000 Arabs living in Israel. And we’re it very much in favor of apartheid one way or another. But, that’s one point.
Israel has accepted [United Nations Resolution] 242, many Arab states have not — some have, some have not. UN Security Council Resolution #242 is based on several principles. One is withdrawal from the territories, not all the territories, but from territories. Another principle, not less important in any way, is the need of Israel for secure boundaries, security.
So, just for the sake of argument, Israel could decide in 1978 that it was a calculated risk, but a good risk to take, to withdraw from all of Sinai in order to have peace with Egypt. And even if Egypt would one day, which I’m sure it will not, decide to go to war with Israel, there would be hundreds of kilometers of desert and the Suez Canal between us and Egypt, which would give us the opportunity or the possibility to mobilize our reserves.
Because as you probably know, Israel has an almost negligible standing army. We are a citizens army, like in Switzerland. And it takes time – – yeah, like in Switzerland — it takes time — yeah, these two — these two systems are really patterned on each other. Only the Swiss have other neighbors — but that’s something else.
It takes time to mobilize our reserves. Now, if we — if anybody would have suggested seriously that Israel withdrew to the old green line, this would have meant, which I said before, what I said before. We would have had a potentially enemy country in the midst of our country, minutes away, seconds away from all of our population centers. Anyone who has been in Israel — and you have — you know exactly what the lay of the land is.
And if in 1967, God forbid, the Arab armies attacking Israel would have had the military acumen, cleverness, to attack us in the center of the country, they would have cut Israel in two; there wouldn’t have been the state of Israel. We would not have been Kuwait, because Kuwait lived another day to come back. We wouldn’t have lived another day.
And we don’t think, just like in the case of Iraq and Kuwait, we do not think that aggression should be rewarded. And we are in the territories because we — there was aggression committed against Israel, which had absolutely no claims at that time on the West Bank or on Gaza. We were attacked, we repulsed the attack, and we occupied those lands from out of which we were attacked. Now, once there will be peace negotiations, including all the factors involved, we will discuss all the different aspects. It is not Israel’s intention to be the overlords of the Palestinian Arab population in the territories, but on the other hand we will not let the Palestinians in the territories determine our future. And on that we’ll have to have peace negotiations. (Applause.)
Q: (Off mike) — as to whether or not — I’ll just have to follow this up, and then I’ll sit down. My question is —
AMB. SHOVAL: I can’t hear —
Q: Israel’s interpretation of —
AMB. SHOVAL: I can’t hear you.
Q: Oh. Israel’s interpretation — the United States interpretation of 242 is that 242 applies to the West Bank and Gaza, not only to the Sinai. So my question is whether you agree with the U.S. interpretation of 242, which is that it does apply to the West Bank and Gaza. Now I’ll sit down.
AMB. SHOVAL: The U.S. interpretation of 242 is identical with Israel’s interpretation of 242. And in the Camp David agreements, which were sponsored by the United States, it says: "The exact location of the borders will be set in negotiations." That’s the exact — the exact wording of the Camp David agreements. Let the Arab states and the Palestinians come forward and sit down with us. We’ll discuss all aspects of the question.
MODERATOR: Due to time constraints, this will be the last question —
AMB. SHOVAL: Well, no, there is a question, so I don’t want to evade it. But please, go ahead.
Q: (Off mike) — Jordan to Iraq. But my question is, you mentioned that maybe U.S. aid to Arab countries should be conditioned —
AMB. SHOVAL: Not aid — arms sales.
Q: Arms sales, what not, should be conditioned to peace negotiations with Israel and recognition of the state of Israel. By the same token, shouldn’t the U.S. aid — military aid to Israel be conditional to Israeli withdrawal from the annexed Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, its withdrawal from South Lebanon, Gaza Strip and the West Bank?
AMB. SHOVAL: I think not. (Applause.)
Q: You stated in your talk that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. According to the U.S. State Department Human Rights reports, 92 percent of the land in pre-1967 Israel is restricted to Jews; the colors in the Palestinian flag are banned, you cannot have them together; the 1.7 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have no political or national rights.
Now, when I took political science classes, I learned that democracy has some relation to the idea that people decide their own fate, that they choose their own leaders, that it’s something like self determination. Could you please explain to me what democracy means in the context of Israel’s apartheid policies?
AMB. SHOVAL: Well, I’m surprised — (applause) — I think that anyone growing up in American should know what democracy is. In Israel — Israel does have one of the highest ratings, I would say, worldwide of democracy. I’m speaking about Israel. There is no such thing in Israel of any restriction of land ownership according to ethnic, religious or whatever origin. This is just a lie. It is not true.
Q: But the U.S. State Department —
AMB. SHOVAL: No, the U.S. State Department does not state — say that, not in the state of Israel.
Q: It’s in the Human Rights Report issued by the U.S. State Department – – AMB. SHOVAL: No, this does — no, this does not exist anywhere in Israel. And I can assure you, all you have to do is go to the streets of Haifa or Tel Aviv or Upper Nazareth, and see how Jews and Arabs live together. There is no — this does not exist. The occupied territories are occupied territories. They are under military Israeli government until — under international law. They are not Israeli citizens. They do not have the right to vote for the Israeli institutions. You don’t want us to annex the West Bank, do you? They have the right to vote — (applause) — they have the right to vote if they want to for municipalities. After Israel’s occupation was the first time that there were free elections for municipalities in the occupied territories —
Q: You killed all the mayors.
AMB. SHOVAL: Yeah, yeah. Okay. Well, look. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. You know, I don’t want to come to your level.
Okay, now — (applause) — the first time, we had a lot of trouble with the Jordanians because Israel gave the right to vote also to women, which was not acceptable at that time — I think that’s changed now — to the Jordanians. Another thing which you may be interested to know, you very often hear on campuses about Bir Zeit University and this university and that university. None of them existed before Israel, before Israel’s occupation of the territories. All of these universities were allowed to be formed because of Israel’s authority. None of them existed when the Jordanians were there. Neither Bir Zeit, nor the one in Hebron. None of these universities existed before. And that’s okay, because we do want the Palestinians to coexist with us one day. We do not believe that one people must expel the other people. We don’t believe that Jews should be thrown into the sea, nor do we believe that Palestinians should be thrown somewhere.
We want to coexist with the Palestinians in that big country in which both peoples have rights and aspirations, but we can only do it once they come and sit down with us, and shed their leadership, which still has not recognized, not only our existence, but our right to exist in the Middle East.
Thank you. (Applause.)