U.S. Department of State, James P. Rubin, Spokesman, Bureau of Public Affairs, Press Briefing at Waldorf-Astoria on the Middle East Peace Process, New York, New York, September 27, 1998


MR. RUBIN:  I'm under-dressed, and Schweid has his tie on.  This ain't right.

They started the meeting at 6:30 p.m., it is my understanding.  Secretary
Albright, as you know, had a meeting with Chairman Arafat about an hour long,
earlier this afternoon.  We would expect this meeting to last roughly that time
frame.  They are working--she is working very, very hard this weekend, in
advance of the President's meetings, to try to, as I said before, make as much
progress as we can, where we can, in order to put the process back on track.

Clearly, progress has been made in the run-up to these meetings and continues to
be made during the meetings.  But where it will lead us is not clear at this
point.

On the record for your questions.

Q  Does she expect Arafat to deliver the same kind of speech that he was
supposed to?

MR. RUBIN:  We've made very clear to both sides that it's important that they
not take actions or make statements that prejudge issues to be determined in the
final status talks.  That is a position of principle we've had with both sides.
We've pushed quite hard with both sides during recent months; and yes, we made
that very clear to Chairman Arafat.

Q  That wasn't the question; the question was --

MR. RUBIN:  Let me just finish my thing--and Secretary Albright made that clear
with him in her meetings with him in the last couple of days.

Q  The question was, do you still expect Arafat to make this statement that he
said he would make?

MR. RUBIN:  Well, I don't know what he said he would make; he's said different
things.  So I don't know how to answer that question.

Q  Well, you heard today--he basically said he would declare statehood -- not
through the peace process --

MR. RUBIN:  I've heard accounts of things being crossed out from speeches as
well.

Q  But he said it downstairs this morning.

MR. RUBIN:   Said what?

Q  He said he's hoping that the peace process will lead to statehood; but if
not, May 4 can't just come and go.

MR. RUBIN:  Well, that's a statement of fact.

Q  He makes all sorts of public statements that contradict each other, but what
did he tell the Secretary of State?

MR. RUBIN:  Regarding what questions?

Q  Will he make a unilateral statehood declaration tomorrow?

MR. RUBIN:  Declare statehood tomorrow?

Q  You know what I mean.

MR. RUBIN:  No, it's a really big difference.

Q  Well, then I'll ask the question precisely, okay?  Will he tell the UN
tomorrow, where he's quite comfortable because he has an element of support
there, that if he cannot get a state through negotiations, he intends to declare
it unilaterally?

MR. RUBIN:   I don't know what Chairman Arafat is going to say tomorrow.   It's
up to Chairman Arafat to report publicly on what his intentions are about public
statements he hasn't yet made.

What I do know is that we have continued to make known our views--our strong
views--to both sides about the dangers and the fact that it wouldn't be helpful
to the process to make unilateral statements, such as a unilateral statement
declaring statehood.

Q  So he didn't tell her today or yesterday how he would phrase that issue
tomorrow.

MR. RUBIN:  I didn't say that either.  I'm just saying that it's not up to me to
report--

Q  You won't say what he told her is what --

MR. RUBIN:  They had a one-on-one meeting, and it's not up to me to report
what's said in one-on-one meetings.

Q  Was it one-on-one by the way?  You didn't specify one-on-one.

MR. RUBIN:   Yes, it was one-on-one; it was an hour this afternoon.

Q  The Israelis are saying that territory--one Israeli will say that they have
it down, another will say we pretty much have it resolved and security is the
problem.  What headway, if any, did she make on security with Arafat?

MR. RUBIN:  Well, there's two parts to your question.  On the first part--I know
you only asked one, but there are two parts.

Q  No, there aren't.

MR. RUBIN:  There was one on predicate.

Q  I'm not asking about territory; I'm asking about security.

MR. RUBIN:   (Inaudible.)

Q  No, I don't.  Someone else can ask you about territory.  I will not be
diverted from the notion that they pretty much have a territorial agreement and
the hang-up now is security.  So I'm asking you if she made--or even tried--made
any headway with Arafat in these two meetings on security to take care of the
other big issue.

MR. RUBIN:  There are two main issues that have been the focus of these
discussions, and she's worked very hard on them.  One is the scope of the
further redeployment, and the other is the con-commitant security cooperation
necessary. She's worked very hard on both.  We've made progress on both in
recent weeks and months, and we continue to make progress.


Q  Is it complex when they have television programs with Palestinian children
encouraged to be suicide--

MR. RUBIN: Why do you always ask these ridiculous questions?

Q  It is not that complex.  The Israelis have been asking you for 18 months to
have them confiscate weapons, to break up sales, 25 Hamas people they said
Thursday in their newspaper are under the protection of the Palestinians.  So
did she ask them to reverse any of these actions or inactions?

MR. RUBIN:   I have no comment.

Q  You're just telling me she's making progress on security.  You've been saying
that for a year and a half.

MR. RUBIN:   I don't know how to answer those kind of --

Q  A simple question--did she make any specific requests about any specific
security issues?

MR. RUBIN:   She's been doing that all along, and continues.

Q  And she made progress on that?

MR. RUBIN:  We're working the problem; we're making progress where we can find
it.  We're working those problems.  I can assure you that all the information
that you have, she has as well and cares about it as much as anybody does.

Q  And what are the prospects now for a deal?

MR. RUBIN:   On?

Q  On some sort of announcement in the next couple of days that will lock in
progress on x, y and z.

MR. RUBIN:  I don't know what form, as I indicated to others of you during the
course of the last few days--first of all, let me be very clear.  It's very hard
to report in real time about what people are talking about in another room
without harming the chances of getting a deal.  That is what I care most about
and what the Secretary cares most about.  Even if it means that others will
talk, we won't, because that's our view.

With respect to how progress, if it's substantial progress, is reported, I don't
think any decisions have been made.  I think if we make substantial progress and
achieve progress --conclusion on key points, I wouldn't expect it to remain
hidden for long. But we're going to keep working until we get progress.

If we get it, then we'll worry about how to report it.

Q  If there's no progress here, are the meetings at the White House with the
President still on?

MR. RUBIN:  Yes, the meetings are on.  I think I specifically tried to
communicate that there has been progress in the course of today and last night.
There has been progress on the key points.  How far it goes is a different
question.

Q  You've talked about making progress already, and then you just said, "if we
make substantial progress --

MR. RUBIN:   On key points.

Q  On key points.  So would you say to have any kind of an agreement or
announcement, you still need to make substantial progress?  Is that a correct
reading?

MR. RUBIN:   On key points.  In other words, there's a hierarchy of issues.   The
scope of the further redeployment is a key point.  The agreement in principle on
x, y and z and a and b and c and d and e and f and g on security--which is, in
terms of just recording information, is much, much more complicated and a bigger
and bigger package of words.  If you count them when it's over, you'll see what
I'm talking about--if it's over.

So there the ability to close is contingent upon a lot more detailed work.


MR. RUBIN:   It wouldn't be communicated.  Announced is a complicated word.

Q  You're fond of spectrums.  A spectrum ranging from a peace treaty on one end
to a memorandum of understanding on the other end, what is it that is likely--
that could come out if all the things get--

MR. RUBIN:   None of those.

Q  No, I know, but I mean, is it an agreement; is it an announcement; is it a
piece of paper?  What is likely to come out if you're successful in the next few
days?

MR. RUBIN:  Without describing its form, which I can't do because we haven't
worried about that form--MOU, peace agreement--

Q  Haven't worried about that?

MR. RUBIN:  No, that's not what we've been focusing on; we've been focusing on
the it, not the form of it.


Q  What are the (inaudible) doing in the meantime--you know, Ross and Indyk?
Are they meeting, are they drafting?  I don't want to call them senior
officials, but--

--they're in a mechanical job, presumably, doing some writing or drafting?

MR. RUBIN:  No.

Q  No?

MR. RUBIN:  Basically what this episode consists of is one-on-one meetings
between the Secretary and Arafat and the Secretary and the Prime Minister,
Chairman Arafat and the Prime Minister, in which she runs through a bunch of
points with them--what she is seeking to get agreement on or assurances on or
otherwise to improve the chances for peace.

The meetings break; she reports where the problems are.  They might talk to some
of their counterparts.

Q  Have they?

MR. RUBIN:   Sure, but there's not a lot of drafting going on.

Q  But they carry--between these top meetings, they have their meetings?

MR. RUBIN:  They have meetings in between; not too many.

Q  There's never been a three-way?

MR. RUBIN:  There hasn't been a three-way to my knowledge.

Q  And the meetings today with Netanyahu and Arafat were both one-on-one as
well?

MR. RUBIN:  Correct.

Q  Is she likely to meet again tonight with Arafat, or could this go on--

Q  Both of them together?

MR. RUBIN:  Well, what I wanted to say on that as I started out is that all I
can tell you, as you've seen the pattern, is once I know something is going to
happen I tell it to you, I hope, conclusively.  And until I know something is
going to happen, I will say I can't rule it out.

So after the meeting now with Netanyahu, I can't rule out additional meetings
tonight.  That's what I've been saying for days, and that's the only way I know
how to do this.

Q  How soon will you be able to tell us after the meeting is over what the
prospect is for whatever--

MR. RUBIN:  I would stick around; I just don't know.  I'm sorry, but there's no
other way to tell you.

As soon as I'm in a position to confirm or tell you an expectation of additional
meetings, I will.

Q  Have you made any progress on the other unilateral--(inaudible)--some
progress on the Arafat speech on the--(inaudible).  Have you made any progress
on the settlements, for example?  Has something been discussed between the
Secretary and Netanyahu?

MR. RUBIN:  On?

Q  The settlements and the fact that--

MR. RUBIN:   Yes.  She has been--I sometimes say two, I sometimes say five and I
sometimes say four points.  In order to get to a full agreement and put the
interim issues behind us and go to permanent status talks, we need to resolve
the further redeployment; we need to resolve the security cooperation--and that
is not intended to be in any particular order; we need to resolve the interim
committee issues; and we need to resolve the unilateral assurances that we think
are necessary for one to have confidence that during this period, the process
won't be undermined by unilateral actions or statements by either side.

All four pieces of those are discussed and have been discussed in the course of
meetings over the last two days.  What I'm saying is, I would say the focus of
the work has been on the security cooperation and the scope of the further
redeployment.

Q  And that's over both days?

MR. RUBIN:  Right.

Q  You want to make them equally unresolved?  You want to give us the impression
that those two issues are equally unresolved?

MR. RUBIN:   Equally unresolved?

Q  No, I mean, I know in end games, nothing is agreed until everything and all
that.  Putting that aside--

Because you keep pairing--what you've done tonight is, until tonight you've been
asked about the speech and you've always said and she has said they don't want
Arafat to make a unilateral.  Today you've chosen to make it a parallel thing,
as if both have to be--

MR. RUBIN:   No, I think that--

Q  So you made it parallel.  I know that our policy is parallel, but the issue
today is whether he makes a speech tomorrow; not whether Netanyahu breaks out a
new settlement tomorrow.

MR. RUBIN:  When is his speech?  It's not tomorrow.

Q  Yes, it is.

MR. RUBIN:  Tomorrow afternoon?

Q  That's why we're asking about the speech, because it's ripe; it's about to be
delivered.

MR. RUBIN:  I have tried, through the course of my time as spokesman, to follow
the guidance of the people who tell me how to speak.  What I've tried to do--and
maybe I've failed--

Q  No, you're doing fine.  You follow the guidance very well.

MR. RUBIN:   Maybe I've failed.  When there's a unilateral action or statement
brewing on one side, I make the general point that it applies to both sides, and
I apply it to the specific that may just be happening.  That's what I've been
trying to do.

So tonight, if you ask me about the speech of the Chairman, what I'm trying to
say back is we have a position of principle specifically this would apply to the
unilateral declaration of statehood; and we have made that point very clear to
Chairman Arafat.

All right, now, obviously we know there's territory and there's security.  But
the Israelis are saying on the record, on background, every form--

MR. RUBIN:   Flesh out--what did they say?

Q  All you have to do is get a transcript.  Netanyahu on CNN--that they're near
an agreement--that they've agreed to give up to the 13% with a 3%--we don't want
to ask you percentages, okay?

You're putting it back into the same uncertain category as security
arrangements.  And I've got to take guidance from you.  If that's the U.S.
position--that the Israelis are being too positive about this--I want to report
it.  But if you're just doing parallelisms because that's the overall guidance,
I'll just deal with it differently.

Q  Is Arafat dragging his feet?

MR. RUBIN:   Let me try to answer both questions in the following way.  If the
question is, do we dispute that we are very close to an agreement on the 13%, I
do not dispute that.

Q  Fine.  How close are you to an agreement on security that would satisfy the
Israelis?

MR. RUBIN: In the same level of detail?  It has a lot more work to be done;
because I'm trying to communicate to you that although the principles may be
equally important, the recording of the details is much more complex.

Q  Of course; that's what I'm talking about.

Q  What about the make-up of the 13%?

MR. RUBIN:   Did that answer your question?

Q  Absolutely.

Q  That's both on the record--that "I do not dispute that," concerning the 13%
and on security?

MR. RUBIN:  Let me add to that.  I do not dispute that.  One of the foci of--can
I say that, foci?--Secretary Albright has focused on trying to make progress on
the scope of the further redeployment.  I do not dispute that we are very close.

Q  And the business about security--there's a lot more work to be done in that
area, right?

MR. RUBIN:  Because of the nature of it, it also requires more work.  It's a
much more complex--although equally important if not--it's a sine qua non, so
it's more important; but it's more complex.

Q  Right, but then as a follow-up, would you say that the Israelis have gone--

MR. RUBIN:  This is going to be the most complicated transcript in the history
of mankind.

Q  At this point in time, have the Israelis been more cooperative than the
Palestinians?

MR. RUBIN: We're not judging who is more cooperative.

Q  Let me ask you a question.  Have the Palestinians given you what you regard
as satisfactory answers on the questions if why they are not doing the things in
the security area that the Oslo accords say they are supposed to be doing?

MR. RUBIN:  We don't think either side is giving us satisfactory answers to why
either side is not implementing the Oslo accords.  I'm just trying--in other
words, neither side is implementing Oslo.  We're not into a blame game; we're
trying to resolve the problem.

Q  Speaking of resolving problems, where do you stand in resolving the
Palestinian charter part of the--

MR. RUBIN:    The--

Q  The revocation of the--

MR. RUBIN:  Right, that's something that comes up from time to time.

Q  Only from time to time?

MR. RUBIN:  Well, as I've indicated to you, one can't say every problem in every
meeting; so one tries to focus on some problems.  I've told you what we've been
focusing on.  That doesn't mean that all the issues don't come up.

Q  The two main issues that we've spent a lot of time--

MR. RUBIN:  The security cooperation and all that goes with it--with all its
detailed procedures and infrastructure to fight terrorism--and the scope,
nature, quality of the further redeployment.

Q  Well, but if they're not resolved in all their details, can you still do what
you talked about the other day--and that is at least lock in progress where you
have it?

MR. RUBIN:   Yes.

Q  You could--on those--

Q  But without communicating it.

MR. RUBIN:   Maybe not.

Q  Oh, I thought when the details are resolved, you communicate it.


MR. RUBIN:  We'll have to see.  I think we--probably in one form or another--
announced versus--

Q  (Inaudible)--statement, sure--

MR. RUBIN: There's a difference between announcing and maybe even communicating
publicly the exact details of part of an agreement and making clear that we've
shifted the focus--that that's largely resolved and we don't really have a lot
of work to do on that, and now the focus is this.

So one can say that issue is behind us without announcing it.

Q  I get it, of course.

Q  Without announcing it at all, or just not announcing it--

Q  No, even at a photo op with the President or whatever.

Q  In a guidance.

Q  You say you may have something more to say later tonight.

MR. RUBIN:   Correct.

Q  Will this just be in the nature of the fact that somebody had an additional
meeting or it happened earlier or will it be substance possibly?

MR. RUBIN:  I don't know.

Q  It's possible it may be, "well, they met again?"

Q  In theory you could come out--

Q  (Inaudible)--call us and say there was another meeting.  We could work in our
room.  Let's put it another way--can we get a heads-up if you'll be saying
something?

MR. RUBIN:  I could give Lee a couple sentences and you guys go back to your
room.

Q  No, I'm trying to say--if Lee knows--there are only about six or eight of us.
If Lee knows were we are--

MR. RUBIN:  If it's a newspaper or a wire, can I go to sleep knowing you're not
going to make an agreement tonight on a key point; is that your question?

Q  More or less, that my question.

Q  There's the whole truth.

Q  Kind of a different question.

MR. RUBIN:  Given the nature of this business, it's a low probability.

Q  What, that there will be substance?

MR. RUBIN:  An agreement on a key point.

Q  Oh.

Q  You're not going to undercut the President's chance to announce it.

Q  Right.

Q  Well, back off from that--how much would you be likely to say, if there is
something to say, given the fact that the President is going to have a meeting
tomorrow?

MR. RUBIN:  If I didn't think I might have something to say that some of you
would need to know, I wouldn't have told you to stick around.  I don't always
tell you to stick around.

Q  Well, stick around means within phone reach.

MR. RUBIN:  Yes.  You don't need to be standing right here.

Can someone just tell me, did I say anything?  Because it was the most confused
briefing I've ever given in my life.

Q  Yes, you did.

Q  Well, just do the same story we did the last time.

MR. RUBIN:  Right.

Then I succeeded.

Seriously, let me summarize for you what I was trying to say.

What I was trying to say was--the not dispute sentence was very--I wanted to be
able to say that.

Q  (Inaudible)--Israeli optimism.

MR. RUBIN:  Right, on that area.  Number two, to not say that because that it
true that it's a simple fact of the other guys then behaving--

Q  (Inaudible)--protective.

MR. RUBIN:  Right, that's what I was trying to say.


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