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Wednesday, January 7, 2004
Text: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Address at the Likud Committee Meeting

Text: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Address at the Likud Committee Meeting
[With thanks to www.mideastweb.org/mewnews1.htm for converting the faxed
translation provided by the Likud spokesperson to IMRA into a file]

[IMRA: "enable the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, at
first with temporary borders" - the first time PM Sharon used the term
"independent" and the first time he made clear that it would already be an
independent state in temporary borders instead of an entity with "elements"
of sovereignty].

January 5, 2004

Ministers of the Likud Party,

Members of Knesset

Recently elected Mayors and their Deputies,

Members of the Likud Committee

I would like to dedicate tonight to the concerns of the members of the
Central Committee. I meet with Ministers and Members of Knesset, hear what
they have to say and listen. However, due to the constraints of my position,
it is difficult for me to meet with all the members of the Central
Committee, and therefore, it is important to me to hear all opinions, even
those I disagree with.

Because in the end, it is the Prime Minister who must make the decisions.

It is my responsibility to make all due considerations, hear all the points
of view and decide. I, together with the other elected officials, decide,
and I must implement the decisions. I was elected to do so. This is what the
people expect, both Likud voters and those who voted for other parties. And
they are right to expect this.

The State of Israel is facing an historic decision. Either we succeed in
ending once and for all the terror against us, or we will have to act,
without an agreement, in order to provide maximum security to all citizens
of Israel.

We aspire to implement the Roadmap, together with the 14 reservations, in
all its stages, as quickly as possible. The Roadmap is the only political
plan that can bring about peace, since its first step is the total cessation
and uprooting of terror. The Likud has always insisted that only security
will bring peace. Only security will bring peace.

This is the genuine vision of peace, and our hands are extended to anyone
who is ready to adopt and realize it. However, the test will be of actions,
not words.

We have not, nor will we ever, conduct political negotiations under fire. No
prize will be awarded for terror. We will not give in to the pressures of
our political opponents who have adopted the Arab position almost without
reservation.

However, if we achieve security, we will give a great deal. If terrorist
infrastructures are completely dismantled, if weapons are collected, if a
new Palestinian Authority is set up that is democratic and terror-free, if
the incitement is stopped, the Government of Israel that we, the Likud
Party, lead, will be ready to fulfill its part and enable the establishment
of an independent Palestinian state, at first with temporary borders, and
finally through a permanent agreement. Clearly, in the permanent agreement
we will have to give up some of the Jewish settlements.

Only abandoning terror will allow the Palestinians to take a place of honor
in the community of free nations and achieve the freedom and prosperity to
which they are entitled.

The United States, our friend and ally, has given its complete agreement to
this. I am acting, and will continue to act in full coordination with
President Bush and his team. The Roadmap has been accepted by the
international community, which is today united in its fight against terror,
wherever it is found, under the brave leadership of the President of the
United States.

Israel will fulfill all of its commitments, including putting an end to
lawbreaking in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. The Jewish settlers are
among the best in this country, men and women who are courageous, full of
dedication to the State and to Zionism. However, they must also, like all of
us, abide by the law and obey the instructions of the Government and
security forces.

If, within a few months, it becomes clear that we have no partner, that the
Palestinians insist on rejecting our hand that is extended toward peace, if
they continue their terror attack, if they remain entrenched in the camp of
the enemies of humanity, then we will have to act alone, in full
coordination with our allies, led by the United States, in order to provide
maximum security for the residents of Israel.

We will undertake political and physical disengagements until they change
their path. We will extend a security line that will prevent any passage to
our territory. The IDF and the settlements will be deployed along the
security line, a portion of the settlements will be relocated in order to
reduce friction and protect our soldiers, the settlers, the residents of
Jerusalem and the central region and all citizens of Israel in the best way
possible.

An agreement would be better than a unilateral move. An agreement would be
better for us, and better for the Palestinians, who will gain much less from
the Disengagement Plan than they would from a political agreement.

However, if we reach the conclusion that we have no choice, I will act
without hesitation. In the absence of a Palestinian partner, my plan, the
"Disengagement Plan," constitutes the best security plan.

That is my plan and I will pass it.

My fellow Committee members.

The security challenge is the most important challenge we face, but it is
not the only one. The Government under my leadership has introduced a
determined economic policy, headed by the Minister of Finance, of which all
the ministers are party to, each in his or her own field. We are not
deterred for an instant from tackling the most painful problems that have
deterred every Government in Israel.

Now that we have successfully passed the "braking" phase, there is more than
one indication that we are on the path of recovery and growth. The economic
crisis has left a trail of actual problems. The situation is not easy for
many people, and even extremely difficult in some cases. There is great
distress. The Ministers and Members of Knesset are sensitive to this
distress and are acting to reduce it as much as possible.

Allow me to present an example.

I am especially concerned with the condition of children at risk, from the
disenfranchised sectors. This week, following a conversation with several
members of our party, I decided that we must push harder for the
introduction of a long school day, and at its center, proper nutrition for
every child. It is better to cut back child allowances that go to the
parents, and instead use the money to provide a warm meal and educational
learning framework for every child who needs it. That is one of the steps in
the socio-economic field that the Likud must - and will - lead.

This is but one example of the way the entire Likud Party is leading, and
will continue to lead in the socio-economic sphere. This is how the largest
party in the Knesset works, with a sense of responsibility, through mutual
conviction, by making brave decisions and acting determinedly together, only
together, to carry them out.

We are the ruling party. We were elected in order to lead and implement.
Every one of us has a role to play, because only together, as one person,
with one heart, can we realize the hopes of our voters.

We have four more years ahead of us. We have the time and the strength to
act.

I am convinced that with your contributions and with our help, we will lead
the state of Israel to prosperity and growth, tranquility and peace.

[Document courtesy of IMRA News Service]

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