Statements by US President Bush and PM Sharon after meeting at the White
House - Oct 16, 2002
[Information Department, Israel Foreign Ministry - Jerusalem]
Washington, D.C., October 16, 2002
PRESIDENT BUSH: It's my honor to welcome Prime Minister of our close
friend back to the White House. We've just had a good discussion
about peace and security, about prosperity. I first want to say that
I understand what terror has done to economy. Terror has affected our
economy; terror has affected the Israeli economy. But we've got great
confidence in the Israeli economy. We've got great confidence in the
Israeli people. The greatest asset Israel has is the brainpower and
ingenuity of her people. And I'm convinced that the economy will be
I appreciate so very much the fact that the Prime Minister is
committed to working with his Cabinet to move some of the Palestinian
money to the Palestinian people; that he cares about the human
condition of the Palestinians; and that under a monitoring system to
make sure that the money being sent back to the Palestinian people
will not be used for terrorist activities, that he is willing to work
with his Cabinet to do just that. I believe that's important.
We talked about the framework for peace, the idea of working toward
peace, the idea of two states living side-by-side in peace as a part
of our vision. And to this end, Bill Burns, Ambassador from the State
Department, is going back to the Middle East to continue to work on
the process; continue to work toward achieving concrete, real,
objective and measurable reforms, so that there's a peaceful future
for the region.
So, Mr. Prime Minister, thanks for coming. It's good to welcome you.
I appreciate you being here.
PRIME MINISTER SHARON: I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for
having us again here. I would like to express our deep appreciation
to your leadership facing the world terror. We regard terror as the
most dangerous thing, and seeing the terror spread now, seeing that
under your leadership the world will be able to face the terror and
contain terror and stop terror.
We have been facing terror for over 120 years, and we still face
terror. But we believe the day will come, and hope it will be soon,
that we'll be able to start peace negotiations. I believe that Jews
and Arabs will be able to live together. And we, on one hand, are
taking all the necessary steps against terror. And we will continue
to defend our citizens. In the same time, we'll take all the
necessary steps to move forward the political process. And I believe
the day will come and we'll have peace.
We had an interesting discussions here, very important. I would like
to thank you, Mr. President, for the friendship and cooperation. And
as far as I remember, as we look back towards many years now, I think
that we never had such relations with any President of the United
States as we have with you, and we never had such cooperation in
everything as we have with the current administration. I would like
to thank you for that, and we are looking forward for better future
for all of us.
Q: Mr. President, have you asked the Prime Minister not to respond if
PRESIDENT BUSH: first of all, I have told the Prime Minister that my
hope is that we could achieve a disarmament of the Iraqi regime
peacefully. I haven't given up on the fact that we can achieve it
peacefully. We have no plans to use our military unless we need to. I
explained to the Prime Minister, just like I explain to every citizen
who is interested in this, the military is my last choice, not my
first choice. So we talked about the desire for the U.N. Security
Council to be strong, and for the nations that care about peace to
see that Saddam is disarmed. And he's got to disarm himself. That's
what we talked about.
Q: Mr. President, I would like to complete my colleague's question.
If an Iraqi missile lands in Tel Aviv, killing tens of people --
PRESIDENT BUSH: An unprovoked attack -- if tomorrow an Iraqi
Q: Theoretically, and it can be practically.
PRESIDENT BUSH: If Iraq were to attack Israel tomorrow, I'm sure
there would be appropriate response.
Q: How should Israel respond? How should you respond --
PRESIDENT BUSH: If Iraq attacks Israel tomorrow, I would assume the
Prime Minister would respond. He's got a desire to defend himself.
Our hope is that the Iraqi regime will disarm peacefully. But I can't
[guarantee] -- maybe Saddam will attack tomorrow. He's certainly a
dangerous man. And he's got to understand that the international
community won't tolerate an unprovoked attack on Israel -- or anybody
else, for that matter. Of course, he's done it in the past. That's
what I've explained to the American people. He's attacked two
nations. He's gassed his own people. He's a dangerous man. That's why
he must be disarmed. And that's why the international community must
work to disarm him.
Q: It's been more than a month since you said you expected the United
Nations to act in days or weeks on a new Iraq resolution. How much
longer are you prepared to wait, and why aren't you losing
PRESIDENT BUSH: Because it takes a while to get things done in the
U.N., I guess is the answer. I've made the commitment to go to the
U.N., I've asked the U.N. to act. We have got to deal with members of
the Security Council. There are differing opinions on members of the
Security Council. And we've got to work hard to reach a consensus, a
resolution that will, on the one hand, do everything it can to disarm
Saddam Hussein; and also has got the capacity for there to be
consequences should he not disarm. And therefore, we're working
closely with the Perm Five, as well as others on the Security
Council, to reach this resolution.
I am a patient man. I think it's important. I made the decision to go
to the U.N. And therefore, we're willing to work with the U.N. If
the U.N. can't act, however, if they're unable to act, if once again,
after 11 years and 16 resolutions, they cannot bring themselves
together to disarm Saddam Hussein, then we will lead a coalition to
do just that. But, in the meantime, we're giving the U.N. time to
listen to the arguments and to, hopefully, come together soon to get
a resolution which will achieve the objectives.
Q: Mr. President, the Hizbullah is threatening to escalate the
situation in the Israeli northern border, and Israel has intelligence
information that Palestinian terror organizations are also planning
to escalate and have more terror attacks because the United States
might attack Iraq to disarm Saddam Hussein. Is there any limitations
on Israel to defend itself? Did you ask the Prime Minister not to
take certain measures if he's attacked by Hizbullah or by the
Palestinian terror organization?
PRESIDENT BUSH: We certainly want to work with Israel and we'll make
it clear to Hizbullah, nations housing Hizbullah, whether in the
context of Iraq or not, we expect there to be no attacks. This is
terrorist activity, and we will fight terror wherever terror
The doctrine that says if you harbor a terrorist still exists. And
again, apart from Iraq, we expect Hizbullah not to attack our friend.
And so we will work with Israel and work with other nations, making
it clear to them our position on harboring terrorist activities.
Thank you all.