Jerusalem, 20 August 2001

PM Sharon: "Despite being faced with an unending wave of terrorism and incitement, Israel is committed to peace and the American initiative according to the Tenet cease-fire plan and the Mitchell outline."
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met on Monday, August 20, 2001, with a visiting delegation of Republican members of the US House of Representatives led by Congressman Roy Blunt of Missouri, the House Republican Chief Deputy Whip.

Prime Minister Sharon briefed the delegation on the main principles of government policy regarding the conflict with the Palestinians. He said that today Israel is dealing with a wave of terrorism directed and inspired by the Palestinian Authority, and added that this is after PA Chairman Arafat decided to reject former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s far-reaching proposals and choose terrorism as a strategic option.

Prime Minister Sharon said that it is clear to himself and his colleagues that "There is no cycle of violence here; Israel is facing continual provocations by the PA." Despite being faced with an unending wave of terrorism and incitement, Israel is committed to peace and the American initiative according to the Tenet cease-fire plan and the Mitchell outline, the Prime Minister said. Israel’s policy is directed towards blocking the escalation, maintaining stability and preventing war. The Prime Minister emphasized that while he is committed to true peace with security and is prepared to make painful compromises, he is not – in any way – prepared for any compromise on the issue of security for the citizens of the State of Israel.

Prime Minister Sharon said that in order to reach a complete cease-fire, international and American pressure must be placed on PA Chairman Arafat. He added that it is important that the PA’s security services – such as Force-17 and the Tanzim – which are today conducting terrorist actions against Israel, be recognized as terrorist organizations in every respect.

Regarding the war on terrorism, Prime Minister Sharon made it clear that the terrorism Israel is fighting against in the local, regional and international spheres is the main element threatening the stability of the Middle East today. In the future, the threats presented by Iran and Iraq – which are equipping themselves with missiles and weapons of mass destruction – will be added.

Prime Minister Sharon said that Israel’s counter-terrorism policy against suicide-terrorists is based on Israel’s right to take self-defensive measures just like other countries do. The Prime Minister stated that this is a focused policy that combines immediate responses to all terrorist attacks, commando actions against organizers and planners, and continuous international pressure on PA Chairman Arafat to immediately halt the terrorism, violence and incitement, since the PA will have something to lose in every terrorist action.

Prime Minister Sharon explained to his guests that he has made it unequivocally clear to US President George W. Bush and other leaders that Israel will not countenance any additional shooting at Jerusalem neighborhoods. The threat of Israeli action against the PA is what brought PA Chairman Arafat to order a halt to the shooting at the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. "Arafat’s problem isn’t a lack of control, but a lack of will,"