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 Friday, 10 January, 2003, 11:38 GMT
Sharon's halted speech: Excerpts
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Sharon: Dismissed "shameful plot"
Excerpts from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's televised speech on Thursday night which was cut short on orders from the head of Israel's Central Election Committee.


Good evening.

I came here this evening in order to confront the shameful plot that was hatched against me and the Likud with but one aim: to topple the Israeli Government and to assume power through slander and deceit.

Let me describe to you the sequence of events over the recent months.

Someone, whose identity is being investigated now at the orders of the attorney general, leaked a document full of gossip and lies about Gilad's [his son] business dealings, which are ostensibly connected to me.

The state comptroller didn't ask me to return the money

Let me tell you the precise facts. More than a year ago, the state comptroller discovered that contributions had illegally been made and informed me of this.

I was amazed by these findings.

I went home to the ranch and spoke to my sons. I told them on my own initiative that all the money must be immediately returned to the donors without any delay, and that even if we had to mortgage the ranch and our home a second time, it must be done.

The state comptroller didn't ask me to return the money. When I heard that the scope of contributions that had been collected was beyond what was allowed, I decided to return all the money on my own initiative.

Now we are talking about a large sum of money, almost 5m shekels, and I, after all, have no financial means.

Let me state here clearly that I didn't know exactly how the money was collected

Already in 1989, I divested myself of all responsibility for managing the ranch, and even before that it was run by someone else while my sons were in the army, as required by law.

When my sons completed their military service, they assumed responsibility for managing the ranch, along with their other business dealings.

Today, Gilad successfully manages the ranch, and I am not involved, as mandated by the law.

I took the savings accumulated by my late wife Lili, may she rest in peace, and myself, and transferred 500,000 shekels, leaving me 250,000 shekels in overdraft at the bank.

Gilad took it upon himself to come up with the rest of the money.

And a short time later, he gave me the remainder of the sum, a little more than 4m shekels, and I returned all the money to the donors and notified the state comptroller that I had done so.

My son Gilad is a very successful businessman with wide-ranging business interests

I didn't wait until all the money had been collected. I immediately transferred the 500,000 shekels that my wife Lili and myself had saved.

I did this first thing so that it would be clear to everyone that I indeed intended - contrary to all the others - to return the money.

As far as I was concerned, that was the end of the affair.

Let me state here clearly that I didn't know exactly how the money was collected.

We spoke about mortgaging the ranch and, to the best of my knowledge, that was indeed done at the time.

When I was asked about it by the police that is what I said.

I told them that I didn't know exactly, that my sons had handled the matter, and that to the best of my knowledge the ranch was mortgaged.

If it later transpired that another way had been found, then that is all to the better.

My son Gilad is a very successful businessman with wide-ranging business interests.

He is successful and makes a lot of money. I am very proud of him.

I know that everything is carried out in a honest and legal manner.

I know that everything is done and reported on properly. He has documents that prove everything.

The important and relevant documents pertaining to the loan were presented to the public at a news conference.


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