Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s greeting welcoming the US Vice President, and remarks by Vice President Richard Cheney
March 18, 2002

Prime Minister Sharon: My friend, the Vice President of the United States of America,

Welcome to Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people and the united and undivided capital of the State of Israel.

Approximately six months ago at the World Trade Center in New York and at the Pentagon in Washington, the clock of history stood still. Nothing will ever be the same again.

I take this opportunity, on behalf of the people of Israel and on my own behalf, to express our gratitude and appreciation to President Bush, to you, Mr. Vice President, and to the entire American administration for raising the banner of the war against terrorism, as a supreme value.

In this war, Mr. Vice President, you are not alone. This is a war forced upon the entire free, enlightened and democratic world. This is a war between a civilization which sanctifies the value of life and the pursuit of a better future, and those who glorify death and destruction and seek to drag humanity into an abyss of despair and desperation.

Mr. Vice President, terrorism is terrorism is terrorism, anywhere in the world. There is no "good terrorism" or "bad terrorism". Real or imagined injustice or deprivation cannot serve as an excuse for the murder of innocent civilians. There is no neutrality in this struggle. Those who sit idly by and do nothing to prevent it become partners in the forces of terrorism and cannot wash their hands of it.

In recent months we have been in the midst of a brutal wave of terrorist attacks, aimed at innocent people – civilians at cafs and discotheques, youth, babies and entire families that fall prey to Palestinian terrorism. This terrorism knows no mercy. Therefore, the terrorists, their dispatchers and those who sponsor them must have no immunity or refuge – this is the only way to bring them to the realization that terror and violence will achieve nothing.

Mr. Vice President,

Israel is a peace-seeking nation and we are making every effort to reach an immediate cease fire and cessation of terrorism and to begin the implementation of the Tenet Plan. I have in the past declared that in order to achieve a real, just and durable peace, I would be willing to make painful compromises. But we cannot make any compromise on the security of our citizens and their right to live without the threat of terrorism and violence.

In the past 100 years, and primarily since it gained independence 54 years ago, Israel has had remarkable achievements in every field of life. This indicates what we can contribute to our nation and the entire region when peace is finally achieved – the peace for which we all yearn, the peace which, with God’s help, we will achieve.

Mr. Vice President, I want to thank you for your personal friendship and for standing by the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Your visit to this region at this time is important to all those who seek peace. I believe that together, with vigor and determination, we can eliminate the threat of terrorism and restore freedom and the hope for peace for our children and all the peoples of the region. Israel will continue to stand by the United States and assist in the battle to defend our common values and way of life.

Vice President Cheney: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister. I am delighted once again to be back in Israel and I appreciate the warm welcome.

I have been looking forward to this return visit and especially meeting once again with my old friends, Prime Minister Sharon and with President Katsav.

This is the tenth country I visited in the region this week. I have made this journey on behalf of President Bush, to confer with regional leaders on issues of great importance, especially our cooperative efforts in fighting terrorism and in our determination to promote Arab-Israeli peace and reconciliation.

We are also conferring about other challenges to regional security and the threat posed to all of us by weapons of mass destruction and the relentless efforts of the world’s most dangerous regimes to acquire them. I come as well to reaffirm the strong, enduring ties between the American and Israeli peoples and to remind the world that the commitment of the United States to the security and wellbeing of Israel remains absolutely unshakeable. The friendship between our two countries is based upon shared interests and values, a common commitment to democratic institutions, regional stability, economic prosperity and the pursuit of peace.

I would like to repeat our deep appreciation for the support of the Israeli people and their government in the war against terrorism. Israel has stood at the front lines of this struggle for decades. Both our countries have lost many lives to merciless acts of terror. We stand together as full partners to defeat this threat to the civilized world. We also stand together in our efforts to end the brutal acts of terror and violence that have beset the holy land for the past eighteen months and to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. Both Israelis and Palestinians have suffered mightily. Both peoples deserve a better future, one in which they can live and work and play in safety and security, as good neighbors without fear that they risk their children’s lives simply by allowing them to go to a disco, or a pizzeria, or by sending them to a school. The United States is determined to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve that future as evidenced by General Zinni’s return to the region.

Our goal is clear: to end the terror and violence; to build confidence between Israelis and Palestinians that peace is not only possible, but necessary; to resume a political process that will end the half-century of conflicts on the basis of United Nations resolutions 242 and 338, and the principle of land for peace. President Bush has outlined a vision in which two states – Israel and Palestine – can live together in peace and security. To realize that vision, the Israeli people must have confidence that their existence as a Jewish State living within secure borders is accepted by all, first and foremost, by Israel’s neighbors in the region.

For that reason we continue to call upon Chairman Arafat to live up to his commitment, to renounce once and for all, the use of violence as a political weapon and to exert a one-hundred percent effort to stamp out terrorism. Only then can an atmosphere be created that is conducive to achieving the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, to live safely and in dignity in their own state alongside Israel.

In that same spirit, I will be talking to Prime Minister Sharon about the steps that Israel can take to alleviate the devastating economic hardship being experienced by innocent Palestinian men, women and children.

This visit to Israel continues a series of open, frank, discussions that I have been having with Middle East leaders throughout this past week.

Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you for your hospitality today, and I look forward to our meetings. To you and to your country, I offer the respect and good wishes of President Bush and the American people.

Thank you.