The White House, July 29, 2003
©2003 Reuters/Gary Hershorn
PM Ariel Sharon and U.S. President George W. Bush at joint press conference at the White House in Washington. (July 29, 2003)
It is a great privilege for me to be here, at the White House, for the eighth time. I am always pleased to visit and feel that I am among friends – true friends of the State and people of Israel.
Mr. President, I congratulate you on the impressive victory in the Iraqi campaign and for removing Saddam Hussein from power – one of the most ruthless and tyrannical leaders in history. For thirty years, the Free World has witnessed the recklessness and brutality of this dictator. Only you, Mr. President, have shown the courage, determination and leadership needed to spearhead the successful campaign to oust this merciless despot, his dynasty and evil regime.
For the first time since World War II, the freedom and peace-seeking democratic world had the wisdom to go after murderous and evil rulers and bring them to justice. I have no doubt, Mr. President, that thanks to you, any villain, in any corner of the world, knows that the long arm of justice will reach them. So many will owe their lives to you and the great nation of America.
I am confident, Mr. President, that the lessons learnt by the nations of the world and the region from the courageous action of the United States in Iraq will serve to advance the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and the entire Arab world.
Your latest statements regarding the threats emanating from Syria and Iran prove, once again, the seriousness of your intentions to continue leading the fight against terror. It must be made clear to these countries that their evil deeds cannot continue. There can be no compromise with terror and evil.
The people of Israel, Mr. President, are greatly thankful and appreciative of your activity, unrelenting commitment to Israel’s security and the safety of its citizens, and your determination to advance the peace process between us and the Palestinians.
We are currently at an important juncture in our relations with our Palestinian neighbors. While relative quiet currently prevails in Israel, terror has not yet completely ceased. This relative calm was achieved, first and foremost, through the uncompromising activity of the Israeli security forces, and as a result of your personal efforts, and the actions taken by the United States among Arab and European countries.
We are thankful for every hour of increased quiet and less terrorism and for every drop of blood that is spared. At the same time, we are concerned that this welcome quiet will be shattered any minute as a result of the continued existence of terror organizations which the Palestinian Authority is doing nothing to eliminate or dismantle.
Mr. President, I am confident that you, as the leader of the Free World in its war against terror, will act to ensure that the Palestinians put a complete stop to the threat of Palestinian terrorism, so that it will never rear its head again. I wish to move forward with the political process with our Palestinian neighbors, and the right way to do that is only after a complete cessation of terror, violence and incitement, full dismantlement of terror organizations and completion of the reform process in the Palestinian Authority.
We had a useful talk today, where we examined ways to advance the peace process between us and our Palestinian neighbors. In this context, a number of issues came up: the security fence which we are forced to construct in order to defend our citizens against terror activities, the removal of unauthorized outposts and the freezing of settlements in Judea and Samaria.
I listened carefully to your statements on these subjects and assured you, Mr. President, that I would address them: the security fence will continue to be built, with every effort to minimize the infringement on the daily life of the Palestinian population. Unauthorized outposts will be removed as required in a law-abiding country. We will continue to discuss all these issues both directly and through our bureaus, which maintain close contact.
Mr. President, we also discussed a series of issues which could serve to promote the peace process. In a statement published on my behalf last Friday, we listed a long series of steps to accommodate the Palestinians. If calm prevails and we witness the dismantlement of terror organizations, Israel will be able to take additional and substantial steps to advance the process.
I wish to thank you again, George, for your friendship and understanding towards the State and people of Israel, and for your contribution and personal involvement in the efforts to turn the Middle East into a place where the peoples of the region can live in peace and security, and guarantee a better life for our children and generations to come.
||Full transcript of joint press conference – July 29, 2003|