(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today (Monday), December 3, 2001, addressed the people of Israel. The following is the transcript of the address:
Citizens of Israel,
Firstly, on my behalf and on behalf of the Government of Israel, I wish to send my condolences to the families of those murdered, and wish a speedy recovery to the many wounded who remain hospitalized around the country.
I returned today from the United States after a conversation with President George Bush. The President asked me to convey to the people of Israel his deep sorrow and sincere condolences. The President told me that the United States is a true friend and partner of the State of Israel. In times of peace, just as today in our fight against terror, the United States and Israel stand together!
Citizens of Israel,
We have fought many wars – and we have won them all. We have defeated our enemies – and we have made peace. We have held the sword – and made the wilderness and desert bloom. We have built cities, developed industry and cultivated agriculture – we have transformed the State of Israel into an example and symbol for many other countries in the world.
We continue this enterprise every day, we will not cease – never!
A war has been forced upon us. A war of terror. A war that claims innocent victims daily. A war of terror being conducted systematically, in an organized fashion and with methodical direction.
If you ask what the aim of this war is – I will tell you. The aim of this war of terror, the aim of the terrorists, their aids and dispatchers, the aim of those who enable them to perpetrate their acts quietly without disturbance, is to expel us from here. Their aim is to bring us to total despair, a loss of hope, and a loss of the national vision which leads us – "A free people in our land, the land of Zion and Jerusalem."
Citizens of Israel – this will not happen!
There is no nation in the world that would have demonstrated such maturity and stamina, I am proud to be part of this nation. I am aware of the fact we also face difficulties in other spheres of our lives; here too, we demonstrate our integrity and strength.
They have already understood that they will not succeed. They have already understood that our nation is stronger and that our spirit of resistance is firmer than they ever could have imagined. Therefore, they continue to slaughter children, youth, men and women, citizens of Israel and other nations – human beings -just for the sake of killing, just to murder.
I tell you from here, from Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel -united Jerusalem. I tell you this, you and all those listening today around the whole world – the blood of those who will rise up to kill us will be on their hands.
Just as the United States is conducting its war against international terror, using all its might against terror, so will we too. With all the strength, determination and resources we have used until today, and with resources at our disposal.
Do not believe false prophecies and do not be misled by promises of immediate results. This struggle is not an easy one, this struggle will not be short. But we will be victorious.
Israel does not start wars. This war of terror, as in the past, has been forced upon us. We know who has forced it upon us. We know who is guilty. We know who is responsible.
Arafat is responsible for everything that happens here. Arafat has made his strategic choices: a strategy of terrorism, in choosing to try and win political accomplishments through murder and in choosing to allow the ruthless killing of innocent civilians, Arafat has chosen the path of terrorism.
For a long time the world has not seen Arafat for what he is, but recently there has been a significant shift. There are signs of greater understanding for our position – everyone is discovering the real Arafat.
Arafat is the greatest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East. We have seen this in the past, are seeing it in the present, and will unfortunately probably continue to see this in the future. But, Arafat will not fool this government. This time, Arafat will not succeed in fooling us.
The Palestinian people must know: They are the primary victims of the current situation brought about by Arafat.
I tell you now: we will pursue those responsible, the perpetrators of terrorism and the supporters. We will pursue them until we catch them, and they will pay the price.
Today, immediately upon my return, I convened an emergency meeting with all the heads of security establishment. In a few minutes, the Government will assemble for a special meeting, and will make decisions on the expansion of the treatment of terrorism.
This is not the place to discuss these avenues. I am certain that the decisions we must take today require a special assemblage of the entire Government.
The Government I head is a National Unity Government. We are now in a time of emergency, and in such times a National Unity Government, a Government which represents the entire public in Israel, is of supreme importance.
United we will face all the challenges before us.