Statement by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon

Jerusalem, 22 May 2001

Good evening,

For the past 8 months, Israel finds itself in the front line of terror and violence imposed upon us by the Palestinians.

The decision to turn to the path of violence was made by our neighbors after the failure of the Camp David talks ten months ago.

We are committed to, and are acting, first and foremost, to safeguard the security of Israel and its citizens. The Government of Israel will continue to strive toward achieving personal security and peace for our citizens.

I call upon our Palestinian neighbors:

We will achieve peace, only if we talk. Stop the violence, and you will discover in us a serious and responsible partner for achieving peace. Nothing will be gained through violence. Peace requires painful compromises on both sides, but it can only be attained at the negotiating table.

Once again, the events of the past months have reminded us of the heavy toll our two peoples are paying.

Yesterday, I spoke with the U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and informed him that Israel regards the Mitchell report as a positive basis which may enable both sides to break the cycle of violence and return to the negotiating table.

I was pleased to hear the most welcome call of the Secretary of State for an immediate and unconditional cessation of violence, and in this spirit, I call upon our neighbors to immediately stop the violence and return to the negotiating table.

I hope that our message is received in the Arab capitals, and that the President of Egypt and the King of Jordan will assist in restoring calm for the benefit of the entire region.

I take the opportunity to call upon those Arab nations with which we do not yet have peace treaties, especially Syria and Lebanon, with which we share a border, to choose the path of peace.

A sovereign country cannot allow its citizens to be attacked in the streets.

I propose to our neighbors that we work together to reach an immediate cease fire, and I hope the Palestinians will respond positively to this call. In this way, we can start implementing the timeline outlined in the Mitchell Report.

The timeline is as follows:

1. A total and unconditional cessation of violence and terrorism.

2. A meaningful cooling off period

3. Implementing confidence building measures (CBM’s).

4. Resuming political negotiations.

I want to stress that Israel is a democracy, the only one in the region and we face a wave of terror perpetrated by countries who are not democracies.

I am encouraged by the comments of the Secretary of State and the position of the United States about the ways to stop the terrorism and violence. We are a democratic country and I sincerely hope that this message will be received in Europe as well.

I am encouraged by, and proud of, the firm stand taken by Israeli citizens and our armed forces in this difficult struggle to defend our nation and bring security and peace.

We are a peace-seeking nation which has withstood tremendous adversity. I am confident that if we maintain our unity, we can overcome all the challenges facing us and achieve the peace we all strive for.