Jerusalem, 7 March 2002

PM Sharon meets US Rep. wexler, Peace Center Chmn. Danny Abraham and US Ambassador Kurtzer
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met on Thursday, March 7, 2002, in his Tel Aviv office, with US House of Representatives International Affairs Committee member Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), Peace Center Chairman Danny Abrahams and US Ambassador to Israel Daniel C. Kurtzer.

Rep. Wexler and Mr. Abrahams gave their impressions of their recent visit to Saudi Arabia and their meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah, who explained the main points of his initiative to them.

Prime Minister Sharon emphasized to his guests that Israel is committed to the Tenet and Mitchell plans but added that we are also prepared to listen to and study the details of the Saudi initiative. The Prime Minister said that while the Saudi initiative was interesting, given the complexity of the problem, a direct dialogue is important so that Israel can present its positions.

Prime Minister Sharon made it clear that in contrast to various reports, Israel is not waging war and has not declared war on the Palestinians. Israel is realizing its right to self-defense in the face of a terrorist onslaught which was forced on it by the Palestinian Authority. "My goal was, and remains, to reach a cease-fire and negotiations on a settlement, even after 17 months in which Arafat has adopted strategies of terror and a war of terror by a coalition of terrorist organizations in cooperation with the PA security forces such as Force 17 and the Tanzim," the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Sharon thanked Rep. Wexler and Mr. Abrahams for their support and assistance and emphasized that he is determined to continue an unceasing struggle against terror while simultaneously striving for a cease-fire and a dialogue that will lead to a settlement. The Prime Minister expressed his confidence that this goal is attainable despite the difficulties.