Foreign Minister Shalom tells Bush: No halt to terror, no peace talks
The Jerusalem Post

1 April 2003

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said he told US President George W. Bush that Israel would agree to resume negotiations with the Palestinians only once they guarantee "a cessation of terror attacks" against Israelis.

Shalom said in an interview Tuesday that in his discussions in Washington on Monday with both Bush and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, they indicated that "they understand that terrorism is a central issue" in their efforts to resume peace talks.

But Shalom, interviewed live over Israel Radio, would not say exactly what Bush replied to the conditions set by Israel for the talks. The US leaders said they intended to press forward with a so-called "road map" agreed upon by the Quartet comprising the US, UN, Russia and European Union.

Rice was quoted by Israeli media as saying that the map would not be subject to negotiation. Shalom declined to comment on this remark. He stressed that he told both Bush and Rice that "without a cessation of terror attacks, we won't be able to reach the point of starting negotiations."

He also said Israel was waiting to see what steps would be taken by Mahmud Abbas, the new Palestinian prime minister, once he installs a new cabinet, which is expected to take place in about two weeks. Shalom said that Israel will give Abbas one or two months to prove he can stop terrorist attacks.

Speaking at the AIPAC convention on Sunday night, Shalom stated that the nomination of Abbas is "a step in the right direction." He added that Abbas must end the incitement to terror and strengthen the Palestinian security services.

Shalom pledged his government's commitment to peace and support for Bush's vision for a two-state solution, with a safe and secure Israel living side-by-side with an independent Palestine.