The full text of Ariel Sharon's speech to the Herzliyya Institute of Policy and Strategy on 18 December:
I would like to thank the organizers of this conference for the most important and interesting event you have organized here. During the past three days you discussed Israel's situation. I, as prime minister, am
responsible for the planning and implementation of moves that will define Israel's path in the coming years.
The mission that we all have is to ensure a Jewish and
democratic Israel: a country in which the burden is
distributed equally; in which all sectors have equal rights
and obligations through some form of national service; a
country with a sound and effective educational system that
educates a new generation in values and national pride, and
that provides the skills to meet the challenges of the
modern world; a country whose economy is in tune with the
sophisticated global economy of the 21st Century, where per
capita income exceeds 20,000 dollars, and which is equal to
the most developed countries of Europe; a country that
absorbs new immigrants, that serves as a national and
spiritual centre for the entire Jewish world, and that
attracts tens of thousands of new immigrants each year.
Immigration to Israel is the country's key goal. This is the
type of country we want, and in which we want our children
I know that I sometimes have a tendency to concentrate only
on Israel's political problems based on the assumption that
once Israel's problems with its neighbours, particularly the
Palestinians, are solved, all other issues on the agenda
will also be solved. I, personally, do not believe this is
the case. We face many challenges which must be addressed:
the economy, educating the younger generation, absorbing new
immigrants, increasing social coherence, and improving
relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
Like all Israelis, I yearn for peace. I see the utmost
importance in taking all possible steps that will lead to a
solution of the conflict with the Palestinians. But, in
light of the additional challenges we face, if the
Palestinians do not make a similar effort to solve the
solution I do not intend to wait for them forever.
About seven months ago the government which I head approved
the road map for peace, which is based on President Bush's
speech of June 2002. The road map is a balanced plan for
progressing gradually towards peace, which Israel and the
Palestinians committed themselves to implement. Full
implementation of the road map is the best way to achieve
genuine peace. The road map is the only political plan that
was accepted by Israel, the Palestinians, the Americans and
most of the world. We are willing to move forward in
implementing the road map: two states, the State of Israel
and a Palestinian state existing peacefully side by side.
The road map is a clear plan, it is also logical. So, it can
and must be implemented. The underlying concept of the road
map is that only security will bring about peace - and in
that order. Without achieving full security, which includes
the dismantling of the terrorist organizations, real lasting
peace cannot be achieved. This is the essence of the road
map. The reverse concept, according to which the actual
signing of a peace agreement will somehow bring about peace,
has already been tried and was a failure. This will be the
fate of any other plan that follows in the footsteps of this
attempt. These are all plans that mislead the public and
give them false hope. There will not be peace before
terrorism is eradicated.
My government will not compromise on the implementation of
all stages of the road map. The Palestinians must root out
the terrorist bodies and create a law-abiding society that
fights violence and incitement. Peace and terrorism cannot
go together. The world is making a firm demand of the
Palestinians to stop terrorism and to carry out reforms.
Only changing the PNA (Palestinian National Authority) into
a different type of authority will enable progress in the
political process. The Palestinians must carry out what is
required of them. Full implementation will ultimately lead
to peace and calm.
We began implementation of the road map in Aqaba, but the
terrorist organizations associated with (Palestinian
President) Yasser Arafat disrupted the process with a series
of cruel terrorist attacks. Together with the demand that
the Palestinians eradicate the terrorist organizations,
Israel is carrying out - and will continue to carry out -
steps to improve conditions for the Palestinian population.
Israel will lift blockades and closures and will reduce the
number of roadblocks, thereby easing movement by Palestinian
traffic, including the passage of goods and people; we will
extend the working hours at the international crossing
points; we will permit a large number of Palestinian
businessmen to conduct normal economic and commercial life
with their associates in Israel.
All these steps are aimed
at permitting better and freer traffic of the Palestinian
population that is not involved in acts of terrorism. In
addition, subject to security coordination, we will hand
over Palestinian cities to Palestinian security control.
Israel will make every effort to help the Palestinians and
to move the process forward.
Israel will comply with its commitments. I assured the
President of the United States that Israel will dismantle
the unauthorized outposts. I intend to live up to that
commitment. Israel is a law-abiding country and the issue of
the outposts is not an exception. I understand that the
issue is sensitive. We will try to carry out our commitments
in a manner that will cause the least pain, but the
unauthorized outposts will be dismantled - full stop.
Israel will comply with all its commitments on the issue of
construction in the settlements: There will be no
construction beyond the existing construction lines, no
expropriation of land for construction, no special economic
incentives, no construction of new settlements.
I want to use this opportunity to call on the Palestinians
and to say again what I said in Aqaba: We have no interest
in ruling you. We want you to run your own lives in your own
country, a democratic Palestinian state, a territorially
contiguous state in Judaea and Samaria (West Bank), a
country with an functioning economy that has normal ties
with the State of Israel. Abandon terrorism and let's work
together to stop the bloodshed. Let's move forward together
towards peace. We want to progress quickly with the
implementation of the road map and with our attempts to
achieve genuine peace.
'Unilateral security move'
We hope that the PNA will play its part. However, if, in
another few months the Palestinians still are not fulfilling
their commitments under the road map, Israel will carry out
a unilateral security move of disengagement (Hebrew:
hitnatqut) from the Palestinians. The aim of the
disengagement plan is to keep terrorism at a minimum - as
far as this is possible - and to provide Israel's citizens
with maximum security. The process of disengagement will
improve quality of life and will strengthen Israel's
The unilateral steps that Israel will take as part of the
disengagement plan will be coordinated to the maximum with
the United States. We must not harm the strategic
coordination with the United States. These steps will
increase the security of Israel's citizens and will make it
easier for the IDF and the security forces to fulfil the
tough missions they are facing.
The disengagement plan is designed to give maximum security
and to create minimum friction between Israelis and
Palestinians. We are interested in holding direct
negotiations, but we have no intention of making Israeli
society hostage to the Palestinians. As I have said, we
won't wait for them forever.
The disengagement plan will include a redeployment of IDF
(Israel Defence Forces) troops on new security lines and a
change in the deployment of the settlements, so that the
number of Israelis living in the heart of the Palestinian
population will be reduced as much as possible. We will draw
temporary security lines, and the IDF will deploy on those
lines. Security will be provided by the IDF deployment, the
security fence, and other physical obstacles. The
disengagement plan will reduce the friction between us and
The reduction of friction will call for an incomparably hard
step: changing the deployment of some of the settlements. I
want to repeat what I stated in the past: In a future
arrangement, Israel won't remain in all the places where we
are today. The relocation of settlements will be done, first
and foremost, in order to draw the most effective possible
security line, which will create the said disengagement
between Israel and the Palestinians.
This security line will
not be the permanent border of the State of Israel, but the
IDF will be deployed along this line until the
implementation of the road map resumes. Settlements to be
relocated are those that under any possible format of a
future and final arrangement will not be included within the
territory of the State of Israel. At the same time, as part
of the disengagement plan, Israel will strengthen its
control in those parts of Eretz Yisrael that will constitute
an inseparable part of the State of Israel under any future
arrangement. I know that you want to hear names, but it's
better to leave something for later.
Israel will largely intensify the construction of the
security fence. This can be seen fleshing out already today.
The speedy completion of the security fence will enable the
IDF to remove roadblocks and to alleviate the daily lives of
the Palestinian population that is not tainted with terror.
In order for the Palestinians to be able to develop their
economic and business life and in order for them not to be
exclusively dependent on Israel, within the framework of the
disengagement plan we will weigh the possibility of
enabling, in coordination with Jordan and Egypt, freer
passage of people and goods through the international
crossings as we adopt the necessary security measures.
'Not a political move'
I'd like to emphasize that the disengagement plan is a
security move, and not a political one. The steps to be
adopted won't change the political reality between Israel
and the Palestinians and will not undo the possibility of
going back to implementing the road map and of reaching an
arrangement through agreement.
The disengagement plan doesn't preclude the implementation
of the road map, but is a step that Israel will take in the
absence of any other option in order to improve its
security. The disengagement plan will be implemented only in
the event that the Palestinians continue to drag their feet
and put off the implementation of the map.
Clearly, under the disengagement plan the Palestinians will
get far less than they would be able to attain in direct
negotiations on the road map. Parts of the disengagement
plan designed to provide maximum security to Israel's
citizens may be carried out concurrently with the attempt to
implement the road map; this, in accordance with the
circumstances that will be created.
Call for unity
Ladies and gentlemen, my life experience taught me that
attaining peace, just like war, requires broad consensus. We
must uphold our unity, even if a poignant debate rages in
our midst. In the last three years the Palestinian terror
organizations put us to a tough test. Their plan to break
the spirit of Israeli society failed. Israel's citizens knew
how to stand firm, support each other, stretch out their
hand, volunteer, and contribute. I believe that in this way,
united, we must continue today as well.
Whether we can make progress in the road map or we have to
implement the disengagement plan, experience shows us that
together, with broad national agreement, big things can be
done. Let us entertain no illusions: every path will be
complicated, fraught with obstacles, and will require the
exercise of judgment and responsibility. I am sure that just
as we lived up to the challenges in the past, we will stand
together and we will succeed also today.
As we proceed, the words of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion
the day after the declaration of Israel's independence will
always stand before us - and I quote: These days we must
build the State of Israel only with love, faith and Jewish
fraternity, and defend it with our souls and with all our
might for as long as it is necessary. We are still facing a
harsh battle, a dual battle, political and military. Let us
not adorn our deeds, certainly not our words, with
highfalutin adjectives. Let us be humble. We have come as
far as we have with the support of the generations that
preceded us, and we have accomplished what we have because
we embraced and preserved a precious legacy, the legacy of a
small nation that experienced a lot of suffering, but is
grand and eternal in spirit, vision, faith, and spiritual
values - end of quote.
I am also a great believer in the resilience of this small
and courageous nation that experienced a lot of suffering. I
am sure that united by the force of faith we'll be able to
succeed in any path we choose.
Thank you and a happy