Jerusalem, July 1, 2003
©2003 Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
Israeli PM Sharon and Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas meet for talks in Jerusalem (July 1, 2003)
I warmly welcome Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, and his Cabinet ministers who are with us here today. I have no doubt that the message projected from here today to the people of Israel, the Palestinian people and the entire world, is one of hope and optimism.
I begin by expressing my greetings and appreciation, on behalf of the Government of Israel and on my own behalf, to the President of the United States, George Bush, for his true and genuine efforts to promote the peace process between ourselves and our Palestinian neighbors. I also wish to convey our appreciation and gratitude to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and his team, as well as National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and her team, for their invaluable contribution to this process.
Prime Minister Abbas,
Today we are facing a new opportunity. The opportunity for a better future for both nations, a future of hope and prospects, which seems to be – perhaps now more than ever – within reach. I have said it before and repeated it when I formed my Government: I will make every effort to achieve a political settlement which will lead to calm and – with God’s help – to peace. This is the mission that I have taken upon my self. It is my duty.
Israel is a peace-seeking nation. Israel’s hand has always been extended in peace to all Arab states and to our Palestinian neighbors. The yearning for peace by Jews in the land of Israel and the entire world, finds expression in every aspect of our lives: the Bible, our prayers, literature and poetry – all enunciate peace. Generations of Jews were taught to seek, aspire to and pursue peace. Therefore, even if the price is painful, even if we are required to make painful compromises, I will be willing to make them for the sake of true peace – a peace for generations, the peace that we all yearn for.
However, we must never forget that coupled with the hopes and prospects, there are numerous risks. There are still many who would like to see the process – any process – collapse. There are still many who seek to derail any possibility of peace and tranquility. There are still those: terrorists, their abettors, dispatchers, those who finance them and those who encourage them, through virulent incitement, all with only one purpose in mind – to murder innocent people.
As Prime Minister of Israel, my primary responsibility is to ensure the security of the citizens and State of Israel. There will be no compromise with terror. And Israel, together with the nations of the Free World, will continue fighting terrorism until it is completely defeated. There can be no peace with terrorism!!!
Prime Minister Abbas,
We will soon begin our meeting in my Bureau (our third in recent weeks), in which we will certainly discuss ways to move forward – the steps you are taking and the steps we will take to combat terror – all in order to advance the process. But let me first reiterate these words from my address to the Knesset on April 8, 2003, when I called on the Palestinians as follows:
"On behalf of the people of Israel, I tell you: we have no quarrel with you. We have no desire to control you or to dictate your fate. We want to live side by side with you in peace, as good neighbors, helping and respecting each other."
It was our wish then, and it is still our wish now.
We were determined to achieve this then, and we are still determined to achieve it now.
We desired peace then, and we still want it now.
And with God’s help, we will achieve it.