Speaking to a packed Alumni Hall yesterday afternoon, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres declared his commitment to achieving a peaceful and secure Israel as well as a Palestinian state that will not be dominated by Israelis.
Peres, however, stopped short of saying that such a Palestinian state would be autonomous.
"The Jewish history is 4,000 years old," Peres said. "Never in our history did we dominate another country."
"We prefer to be free from domination, both as dominating and dominated," both as dominating and dominated," he added. "We do not want to elect [the Palestinians'] leaders. We do not want to enforce our will upon them."
Asked about the issues of peace and trust, Peres mentioned a meeting between himself and Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
"Arafat kept asking me, 'Don't you trust me?"' Peres said. "Unfortunately, my reply was, 'No, we cannot trust you because you cannot trust... all [the Palestinians]."'
The foreign minister said that Palestinians will achieve greater dignity through peace. He said making the country secure was Israel's responsibility.
"We cannot provide 100 percent security for every house," Peres said. "So we say, 'The dignity is yours; the security is ours."'
Peres did not make a prepared speech. Instead, he fielded questions from students only.
"I Suggest that we should go straight to questions and answers because I know that [a] formal address is just a repetition of what you can read," Peres said.
"And, as in the Knesset [Israeli parliament], you can use both [microphones] at the same time," he
Throughout, Peres emphasized his desire forpeace.
"We are decided to have peace," Peres said."Nothing will derail us from this decision anddetermination... We are not playing games."
But Peres also touched on issues unrelated tothe current peace negotiations. The foreignminister stressed the need to preserve Jewishtradition in the modern world.
"Learn the Hebrew language no matter where youare," he implored Jewish students in the audience."To maintain the language is, in modern terms, aJewish commitment,"