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Monday, 8 April, 2002, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Sharon speech to Knesset - Excerpts
Ariel Sharon at the Knesset
Excerpts of the speech by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, on the military offensive in the West Bank.

  • Israeli presence in the West Bank

    "The army operation was planned from the start as a temporary operation for the necessary time to complete the missions I have described.

    "These missions have not yet been completed and the army will continue to operate as fast as possible until the mission is completed, until they dismantle the terrorist infrastructure of Arafat and until they catch the murderers who are holed up in various places, including the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

    We have no war with the Palestinian people and we want to see it live in peace in security and respect, the same as us

    "It was not, and is not, our intention to re-occupy the Palestinian cities for good. After the army finishes its mission it will withdraw on the order of the government to defined security areas.

    "In my talks with President Bush and out of recognition of his sincere desire for peace in our region, I promised that we are making every effort to accelerate our military moves and to withdraw our forces from the places where our operations have ended."

  • Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat

    "The gangs of murderers have a leader and an aim... The aim is to force us out of here to throw us out of every place, from the home in Elon Moreh [Jewish settlement] or the supermarket in Jerusalem.

    Arafat has established a regime of terror in the territories under his control, which in an organised manner trains terrorists

    "There is one person who sends them - the head of the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Arafat. This is the man who committed himself in a series of agreements to put aside the way of terror, to refrain from murder and to prevent it with his own efforts. He has betrayed every one of his promises.

    "Arafat has established a regime of terror in the territories under his control, which in an organised manner trains terrorists, incites, funds, equips and arms them and sends them to acts of murder across Israel."

  • Church of the Nativity standoff

    "Since we don't plan to defile the holiness of the place, as the murderers are doing who took it over and who took the clergy as hostages, we expect the international community will demand they lay down their weapons and leave the holy place.

    "Until then the army will remain in its positions and prevent them from evading justice."

  • 'Security areas'

    "Our forces will deploy in the security areas to act as a buffer between the Palestinian territories and our territory, to prevent infiltrations into Israeli settlements and attacks on Israeli civilians.

    "In addition the forces will be prepared to strike in an initiated and pinpointed way at anyone who wants to continue the war of terror against us.

    "We have no war with the Palestinian people and we want to see it live in peace in security and respect, the same as us."

  • Saudi initiative

    "Despite the extremist demands which were included in the decisions of the Arab summit in Beirut, I welcome the fact that such an important Arab leader as Crown Prince Abdullah from Saudi Arabia has for the first time recognised the right of Israel to live in secure and recognised borders.

    "The Saudi initiative has a positive element, but the details must be discussed between the sides themselves.

    "This initiative will remain empty of real content without free discussion between the sides on its details. No side can force upon the other one-sided conditions."

  • Meeting Arab leaders

    "I renew here today my call to hold immediately... a meeting between myself and the moderate and responsible leaders of the Middle East.

    "I am ready to go to any place, with no condition from any side, and to talk peace. The United States can and must be a motivating and leading element in such an initiative, as it led the contacts leading up to the peace conference in Madrid a decade ago.

    "This week, Secretary of State Colin Powell will come to the region. I plan to discuss with him the way to end terror and advance the initiative I am presenting here today for a meeting of regional leaders which will jump-start steps of dialogue for a framework of peace in the Middle East."

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