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DoD News Briefing: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen

Presenter: Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
April 03, 1997 12:00 PM EDT
welcome Minister of Defense Yitzhak Mordechai, of the State of Israel, to the Pentagon.]

Secretary Cohen: I'm pleased to welcome Yitzhak Mordechai back to the Pentagon. During our meeting this morning we're going to discuss a number of areas involving strategic cooperation. These will include the Arrow Anti-Theater Ballistic Missile program and the high energy laser designed to defend against the Katyusha rockets. We're also going to discuss increased U.S. support for programs that help Israel to combat terrorism.

These and other areas of cooperation between our countries are part of the United States effort to help Israel preserve its qualitative defensive edge. The qualitative edge is one pillar of Israel's security. The other pillar of Israel's security is continued progress on the road to a comprehensive peace agreement. I look forward to working with Minister Mordechai toward our shared goals of keeping Israel strong and secure in a Middle East that is peaceful and stable. Mr. Minister.

Minister Mordechai: Dear Mr. Secretary, It is my honor to be here this morning. I am coming here to tell everybody, especially to you, Mr. Secretary, that you have a friendly country in the Middle East. A country that's committed to move forward with the peace process. At the same time, we worrying about our securities, and to do our level best to continue to have an ability to fight against terrorism and to be able to defend the Israeli state. And we know that here in this state, we have very close and friendly country to help Israel to continue to maintain the defense of Israel.

I would like to thank you, Mr. Secretary, for inviting me, and to thank you on behalf of all my country, for everything the United States is doing to encourage the peace process, and at the same time to give us the ability to be strong enough to look forward at how we arrive to the peacetime. Thank you very much.

Q: Mr. Minister, I wonder if we might ask. You said that Israel is committed to move forward in the peace process. Is there any way that Israel will now suspend it's expansion of settlements in Jerusalem and on the West Bank in order to stop the current violence?

Minister Mordechai: Well I think we have our right to build Jerusalem united, for Israel, the Israeli people and for the Palestinians who are living there. And now, people of Israel, living in the area of Judah and Samaria. They have their need. They have their live linked to the area. We have to find a way we can continue negotiate, how we have, all of us, to fight against the terrorism in the area, how to counter the terrorism initiative to damage the life in the area of Israel and Judah and Samaria, and the Gaza Strip, and at the same time to have the ability to Negotiate with the Palestinians to move forward.

There are a lot of subjects we have discussed with the Palestinians to improve quite a large part of the life in the area, and unfortunately, someone doesn't want to continue with us to find a solution. There are, I think, more than one solution on how to move forward with the peace process.

Q: I'm sorry, follow-up. Will you suspend the movement on these settlements in order to restart the peace process?

Minister Mordechai: I say that we think we have our right, and the Palestinians have their right. We have to negotiate with them to have, all to have state, to move forward.

It is not only a settlement question. There are a lot of questions that can improve the life of the Palestinian in the area and we would like to do it. We have to have our partner, Chairman All? But at the beginning, he must , he and his commander, fight against the terrorism and deny it -- all the terrorism and all the violence in the area. That is necessary is for us to take more risks and to move forward to the peace.

Press: Thank you.

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