Jerusalem, March 19, 2003

Statement by PM Sharon at Beginning of Cabinet Meeting
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made the following remarks at the start of the Cabinet meeting this morning (Wednesday), March 19, 2003:

"Good morning, I have convened the Cabinet this morning in order to update ministers, and hear their opinions, about our preparations for the war in Iraq.

Our assessment is that the chance that Israel will be hit is very small; however, we have taken all necessary precautions. If we assume that the chance of being hit is one in a hundred, our preparations provide a response to 100% of the dangers. All the relevant bodies have invested considerable effort in this.

The war that will be waged is not a war in which we are involved. Of course, we recognize the great danger that a country like Iraq, with its current leadership and its weapons of mass destruction, is involved in terror. We certainly attribute supreme importance to the international, regional and local war on terror; we very much appreciate and esteem the US and President George Bush for leading the global campaign against terror and we hope that the campaign will be successful. In my conversation with US President Bush two days ago, I wished him success in this struggle and this war.

Israel’s citizens have been in a very difficult campaign for a lengthy period and have shown determination, courage and considerable internal quiet, which have allowed us to conduct the campaign against terror that we are in. I am certain that Israel’s citizens will continue to show the same courage, the same determination, and the same decisiveness in the campaign that we are in. Israel’s citizens have extraordinary strength and stamina, which they have proven in the past and are proving again now.

I reiterate our assessment that the chance that Israel will be hit is very small; but we have taken all necessary precautions as if we were in genuine danger.

We see the need to continue with daily life as much as possible and I hope that we will be able to do so. It is very important that the population remains calm and that it act in accordance with the instructions that have already been given and which have yet to be given. The more that we carry on quietly, the better we will be able to deal with the situation.

I reiterate again that in our estimation, the danger that Israel will be hit is small, and that we have taken all preparatory measures as if we were in tangible danger.

Our struggle against terror will continue and it is very likely that there will be attempts to perpetrate terrorist attacks. The security establishment, the Israel Police and the ISA are all making very great efforts. We have no intention, even now, of stopping our struggle against terror.

I would like to thank the security establishment and everyone for their efforts. Hopefully, this period will pass quietly and the campaign being led by the US will be short and successful. Of course, I hope that the number of American and allied casualties will be as small as possible."