Jerusalem, 25 March 2001

PM Sharon Meets with Mitchell Committee
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met today with the members of the Mitchell fact-finding Committee.

Senator Mitchell thanked the Prime Minister for his willingness to meet with the committee and praised the good relations, openness and accessibility to material it enjoyed during its visit to Israel. Senator Mitchell emphasized that "the committee did not come to pass judgment, as its mandate from the President of the U.S. is to examine what happened and how to prevent such occurrences from happening again."

The Prime Minister said that even though the setting up of the committee was a mistake on the part of the previous Government, from the moment it was established, he decided that Israel would cooperate with the committee and extend it any necessary assistance to find out the truth. "Israel does not fear an examination of the facts, as the full responsibility for the eruption of the continued wave of violence lies with Arafat. We know for certain that the security organizations of the Palestinian Authority, including the Force 17 Presidential Guard, is directly involved in the latest terrorist activities."

The Prime Minister cautioned the members of the committee against writing a "balanced report", which would constitute the awarding of a prize to an aggressor and to the initiators of the violence in the Palestinian Authority (PA), since we know, from the intelligence services and the pronouncements of senior officials of the PA, that the decision by Arafat to use violence as a means of obtaining political objectives is a strategic decision, and that Arafat, to this day, has not honored any agreement he has signed.

The only item left from the Sharm understandings – which included a cessation of the violence, prevention of incitement and a renewal of the security cooperation – is the establishment and work of the Mitchell Committee. The Prime Minister emphasized the need for preserving the transparency of the Committee’s work and to prevent steps and activities that are not coordinated in advance.

The Prime Minister explained to the Committee Israel’s fierce opposition to any international intervention and attempts to internationalize the conflict "which will bring about friction, an escalation and an exacerbation of the conflict," and explained his policies for easing restrictions on the Palestinian population, while waging a continued struggle against terror, its perpetrators and their dispatchers, without causing an escalation.

The Prime Minister emphasized his commitment, and that of his Government, to peace and to compromises, but emphasized that he would never compromise the security of Israeli citizens. "Arafat must understand that the Government of Israel will not conduct any peace negotiations under the pressure of terror and violence."

"The terrorism in our region is a strategic problem. Arafat is responsible for the wave of terror and the suffering caused to his people. The cessation of violence, the struggle against terror by the Palestinian Authority, their abiding by the signed agreements and the renewal of direct security cooperation, will clear the way for negotiations on a diplomatic arrangement," the Prime Minister said.

 PM Sharon Meets with Mitchell Committee-25-Mar-2001
 PM Sharon Meets with Mitchell Committee-25-Mar-2001
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 PM Sharon Meets with Mitchell Committee-25-Mar-2001
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