IMRA interviewed, Miri Eisin – Foreign press adviser – Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in English, on April 15 after the meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas:

Question: When Prime Minister Olmert met with Mahmoud Abbas today did he present any ideas for benchmarks for Palestinian compliance with security requirements?

Answer: I don’t know if I would use that term. They certainly discussed the issue that the Palestinians have not addressed the security issue to Israel’s satisfaction at all. They brought up the issue. The Palestinians are working in coordination with Israel and also on a multilateral basis with Egypt and the Americans with General Dayton.

Question: Back on March 27th, Secretary of State Rice specifically mentioned the idea of coming up with benchmarks.

Does the Israeli side have any ideas of concrete benchmarks that might be put up for the Palestinians to reach?

Answer: Well, I would say that a pretty obvious benchmark would be the stopping of the Qassam rocket firing into Israel. This is something that comes up at every meeting. And the bottom line is that Israel is not willing expand – certainly not the “non-ceasefire” but also not…

Question: Does this mean that if the Palestinians were to stop shooting Qassams but continued smuggling, continued building rockets, continued building their armies that this would not be so problematic as long as they didn’t shoot anything for the time being?

Answer: Are you asking or asking?

Question: Well, I just notice that in the sound byte that they only thing that is consistently mentioned is the firing of the Qassams.

A. And the smuggling of the weapons. They follow right after the other consecutively.

Question: And also the weapons factories in Gaza? What is your position on that?

Answer: You are changing the subject? You first were asking me about the meeting today.

Question: Let me back into this. When Secretary of State Rice talked about setting up benchmarks during her last visit here. Is the only benchmark that the Israelis have come up with so far is that the Palestinians don’t shoot Qassams?

Answer: I did not say that. I said “for example”. Listen for what I say and not just what you hear.

Question: Have the Israelis come up with a series of benchmarks for presentation to the Palestinians.

Answer: You pose it as a statement and not as a question which makes it a little difficult to answer.

Question: Let me ask you again. Is there a series of concrete benchmarks that the Israelis have developed and have presented at the meeting?

Answer: They did not present at the meeting today specific benchmarks about this issue.

Question: Is there a team in Israel that is developing concrete benchmarks that could be put into some kind of timeline for achievement.

Answer: Yes.

Question: And this has been before the prime minister or minister of defense or it is still in the development stage?

Answer: I don’t want to give any additional details.

Question: Fair enough. Thank you very much.

Answer: Have a good day.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava
Tel 972-9-7604719 / Fax 972-3-7255730