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Monday, 13 May, 2002, 00:52 GMT 01:52 UK
Excerpts from Likud speeches
Sharon and Netanyahu at Likud meeting
The Likud meeting was frequently tempestuous
Israel's ruling Likud Party held a heated party convention in Tel Aviv foreshadowing a looming party leadership battle. The debate ended in a victory for former Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu over Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the issue of allowing a future Palestinian state.

BBC News Online presents extracts from the two men's speeches, beginning with Binyamin Netanyahu's.
Click here for Ariel Sharon's speech

Honourable Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, ministers, Knesset members, Central Committee members, friends...

We are here tonight to discuss the Palestinian state issue, but to do that, we have to discuss the Jewish state issue before anything else.

Many people have eulogized our state. They said we lost our stamina, that we split into tribes, that we lacked a common vision, that we are incapable of fighting our enemies, who are resorting to unbridled terrorism against us.

Yet these past weeks proved the very opposite to the entire world...

We refused to surrender to terrorism and defeatism, and also, we refused to accept the inane pronouncement that terrorism cannot be solved through military methods...

Most of the nation understands today that no solution can be achieved with the Palestinians unless terrorist forces are first eradicated, unless they are deprived of all hope to achieve their unvarying goal - the destruction of our state.

We have to completely crush Arafat's regime and remove him from the scene, because Arafat is the engine that makes terrorism tick, and he revives it time and time again...

He is the one who has been calling for a million suicide bombers...whom he equipped with explosive belts and dispatched to murder us in our cafes, our hotels, our buses...

We have to understand one thing: unless Arafat and his regime are removed, terrorism will return stronger than ever, and only if we remove them will there be a chance of a new leaf in our relations with the Palestinians...

Therefore, if we seek peace, we have no choice but to oust Arafat...

Every nation has to make the steps that are crucial for its existence, for its and its citizens' survival.

It must do so regardless of the price, and definitely at the price of international condemnation. In this case, however, I repeat: The whole world is not against us...

The worst mistake we can make is promise the Palestinian terrorism the biggest prize of all - the establishment of an independent state of its own.

I am convinced that most of the public today understands that the establishment of a Palestinian state under Arafat will lead to the creation of a fortress of terrorism aiming to destroy us.

But what is a Palestinian state without Arafat? One under a different leadership after the Tanzim and Al-Aqsa Brigades are ostensibly subjected to reforms? Will they be more responsible, more transparent, as they say, under a different command? What will happen then...

The question is not whether the Palestinians will have self-rule in a future arrangement. We know what we want in the permanent arrangement. None of us wants to rule over a single Palestinian. We are ready to grant full self-rule.

The question is whether we will agree to let the Palestinians have powers beyond self-rule, powers that are only granted to states.

A state has full control over its borders. The Palestinian state will be able to bring in unlimited quantities of weapons and troops. A state controls its air space. The Palestinian state will have the right to intercept any Israeli plane entering its space without permission.

A state may forge military pacts with other states. The Palestinian state will be able to forge such pacts with Syria, Iraq, Libya, and other states...

I believe that even those who support a Palestinian state will under no circumstances agree to grant such powers to the Palestinians...

We have to understand that sovereignty has a force of its own even if an agreement is signed ostensibly restricting or defining these powers.

We know that, even if such an agreement is signed, the Palestinian state will soon demand and implement all these powers regardless of whether we agree or disagree...

Look what's happening today, when there is as yet no state.

Even today, under Arafat's limited regime, the Palestinians are revoking the restrictions they agreed to in Oslo one after the other.

They are smuggling in weapons, contaminating the water sources, building an army, forging military links with Iran - and not only Iran, and instead of fighting terrorism, they are manufacturing it wholesale.

And then we take action: when we enter Areas A to fight terrorism - which incidentally is our right per Oslo agreements - the whole world is abuzz.

Look what happened in Jenin: they are setting up commissions of inquiry against us, not against them, although we are within our rights.

Now, I want you to imagine what will happen if a state is established there, one with us consent to boot, a state with borders recognized by the whole world.

If we agree to such a state, we will be fettering the IDF with iron chains with our own hands, generating an enormous threat to our existence...

We know that, in any future agreement, if and when one is reached, there will be self-rule in which the Palestinians will be free to rule over themselves, but a state with all one entails, all the powers I listed before, that we won't agree to either under Arafat or another leadership, either today or tomorrow.

The Palestinians will enjoy all the rights with one exception - the right to annihilate the State of Israel. We say yes to self-rule, no to a state.

We are being told that a Palestinian state is a vision for the future, but our nation has a vision of the future, too, saying: The wolf shall dwell with the lamb.

When this vision comes true in the Middle East, we will reconvene the Central Committee and discuss the issue once again...

My friends, we must present the situation in the clearest possible way: we won't lend a hand to the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River... A clear message to the whole world should be sent from here. We must vote as one in favour of the draft resolution against a Palestinian state...


Excerpts from address of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Likud's central committee.
Click here to go back to the top

Ladies and gentlemen, members of the Likud and friends. I have a question to the chairman of this session: Tzahi, why don't you call more sessions of the Likud Central Committee? Look what an event we have here!

For over a year and a half the State of Israel has been subject to a murderous terror offensive, a bloody offensive whose target is every one of its citizens.

From here, in the name of all of us, I would like to send our condolences to the families of the victims.

This terror offensive has been waged, organised, and financed by one person: Yasser Arafat. This is the same Arafat who signed a commitment not to use the weapon of terror and with the same hand signed the orders to transfer funds to suicide terrorists.

This is the same Arafat whose hand, with warmth and perhaps with naivete, was shaken by Israeli prime ministers. To my regret, they included a prime minister from our ranks. I, for one, didn't shake Arafat's hand.

This same Arafat was given the keys to establish the terrorist bases in the heart of our country...

The concessions of the Barak government were perceived by Arafat as weakness, and he thought that he would be able to bring the Israeli people to its knees. However, our government, the government I head, is a different government.

Arafat has already understood that the Israeli people won't surrender to anybody. This is a government that has faced up to international pressure and repelled the desire to bring Israel to an international tribunal. I faced up to it and I repelled those efforts...

There are no shortcuts. That's how the government under my leadership, a national unity government with the Likud at its centre, acts today. This is a government whose actions are based on good judgment, responsibility, and cool-headedness.

We will crush the terror not with books and speeches, but with courage and good judgment and responsibility...

These actions have but one goal: to strike at terror and restore security so that we may make progress towards peace. Reaching peace is possible, but two basic conditions must be met first: One, a total cessation of the terror, violence, and incitement; second, the Palestinian National Authority must undergo basic structural reforms in all security-related, economic, legal, and social areas, along with full transparency and organizational responsibility.

We cannot make peace with a corrupt, rotten, and dictatorial terrorist regime. It must be a different PNA.

After these two basic conditions are met we will be able to enter a phased arrangement that consists of a long-term interim agreement during which our relationship with the Palestinians will be determined.

Only afterward, after we see how the Palestinians build their society and self-rule, after we are convinced that they are truly headed for peace, only then will we be able to make progress towards discussions to decide the exact nature of our relations with them.

Only then will we be able to know what guarantees we will demand to ensure that the agreements are honoured. Only then will we be able to sign a permanent peace agreement.

The Israeli people wants peace. The Israeli people knows that peace will come only if we defeat terror.

My friends, members of the Likud, I came here this evening because this is my home. I initiated the establishment of the Likud. I, together with my friends, built this glorious movement.

We were together in the difficult times and we were together in times of triumph.

We in the Likud remember how twice in the past the entire national camp fell prey to internal wars that undermined its unity, internal wars that led to the fall of right-wing governments, power struggles for positions that undermined our internal cohesion.

There were those who fought for an ideology, but when the moment of truth came they rallied around the elected leadership.

Then there were those who turned the fight itself into an ideology. Those fights led to the Likud's downfall and enabled the left-wing government to look for shortcuts and find the Oslo agreements.

On this count, too, we had better remember that the Oslo agreements were accepted by one person in our ranks, by one person.

Do we want to go back to those struggles? Have we forgotten that the strength of the national camp, led by the Likud, lies in its unity?

Will the Likud Central Committee refuse to give its backing to its own government, a government that was elected with an unprecedented majority in the midst of a war? I know that the answer is no.

The Likud is the central force in Israel's life. It must be united and must give its backing to the government, to the ministers and to me, the prime minister, in the midst of a difficult and horrendous war.

There will be only one consideration: whatever is good for the State of Israel, whatever is good for the citizens of the State of Israel.

There will be no other considerations. Scheming, pressures, and incitement will not affect me. I will tread the way I believe in, and that's it should be! It is my responsibility! [applause]

I know that all of us will act responsibly, with determination and patience, with faith in the justness of our way and faith in our victory. That's why I propose - and I would like to ask the chairman of this session to put my proposal to a vote - that the Likud today abstain from passing a resolution on the permanent arrangements [booing from the audience]. This would be a dangerous mistake.

Any resolution passed today with regard to the permanent agreement would be dangerous to the State of Israel and would increase the pressure on it prematurely.

[chants of "Bibi, Bibi"]

We are not dealing today with the Palestinian state, the issue is not on the agenda. What we are dealing with today is with eradicating terror and fighting the PNA's terrorist infrastructures.

The IDF soldiers, the security forces, and the entire Israeli people are united today in their strive to eradicate terror.

This is not the time for discussions on irrelevant issues. I propose that the Likud Central Committee pass today only one resolution, as follows [as booing continues, chairman Tzahi Hanegbi and Netanyahu urge the audience to calm down]:

My friends, members of the central committee, I am the man who bears the responsibility, I am the man who faces up to this struggle, I am the man who knows the situation, the responsibility lies on my shoulders.

Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to read the draft resolution which I believe is the only one that should be passed today: The Likud Central Committee is united in its support for the government, for the ministers and the prime minister from the Likud, and strengthens their hand in the determined struggle against terror until victory and in the effort to lead to true and stable peace and will not hold a vote today that will hinder the political struggle.

Any future agreement will be submitted to the central committee for discussion before it is approved. Together we shall overcome, together we shall continue to lead the State of Israel, together we shall defeat terror, and together we shall make peace, because only together victory is possible and, God willing, we shall win.

The Likud central committee then voted 669 to 465 to vote on the resolution: There will be no Palestinian state west of the River Jordan. The resolution was passed almost unanimously on a show of hands.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Michael Voss reports from Jerusalem
"Mr Sharon's supporters have asked for a vote of confidence in the prime minister and government"
See also:

12 May 02 | Middle East
Sharon loses crucial party vote
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Israel sends Gaza reservists home
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Israel may accept Palestinian state
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Arab leaders denounce violence
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Church emerges unharmed from siege
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Eyewitness: Calm end to siege
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No winners from siege deal
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In pictures: Bethlehem clean-up
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In pictures: End of Bethlehem siege
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Timeline: Bethlehem siege
09 May 02 | Middle East
Bethlehem siege: Inside the negotiations
10 May 02 | Middle East
Gaza gives militants hero's welcome
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