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Monday, 30 October, 2000, 19:19 GMT
Barak and Sharon slug it out
Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak
Your turn first: Sharon eyes Barak as he goes to speak
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak opened the new Knesset session blaming the Palestinians for the upsurge in violence but insisting peace was still possible.

Opposition leader Ariel Sharon responded by saying that Mr Barak's policies had left the country weak.

The following are excerpts from the two politicians' speeches in the Knesset on Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak:

Since the Knesset summer session went into recess, the State of Israel has undergone a fundamental change. We find ourselves at the beginning of a new situation, and I am convinced that in the end Israel will come out strengthened, wiser, united...

We are strong. However, we do not aspire to live by the sword forever. Our goal is security and peace.

We are not the ones who chose the path of violence. This, regrettably, was the choice made by Arafat and the Palestinian leadership at this time ...

We understood that if peace is achieved, it will mean a painful and heartbreaking price, but we never agreed to peace at any price, a peace of surrender, or to the demands of the other side.

The Palestinians should know that we were prepared to make possible the realization of some of their dreams - even at a heartbreaking price - but the Palestinians should know that we, too, have dreams and vital interests that we will not give up: the security of Israel, the unity of Israel, and the places holy to Israel...

Likud leader Ariel Sharon
Sharon: 'I cannot accept Camp David'

The fact that we apparently do not have at this time a partner prepared to make tough decisions is a result of a Palestinian decision to choose violence...

In the name of the majority of people in Israel, I appeal to Chairman Arafat today: You should know you will achieve nothing through violence.

Time is not on our side ... The window of opportunity in which we operate is closing. In a few years, one of the most extreme of the Arab countries could have the ability to manufacture and launch nuclear weapons ...

Opposition leader Ariel Sharon

At this time, unity among the Israeli people is important. We are facing a state of emergency ...

We can unbalance the enemy if both the Israeli people and government are united

Ariel Sharon

An emergency government is important at such times. It is important in order to bolster the people's spirit and it is vital in order to present Israel as united and strong to the outside world.

The Arab countries are gathering around. Threats are being heard from every direction. Israel appears weak despite its military and economic power ...

Unity among the people and an emergency government are important now. That is why I support the establishment of a national emergency government ...

In my talks with the prime minister, I realized that he is not prepared to abandon the ideas raised at Camp David. This is something I cannot lend my hand to. Imagine how much worse our situation would be if most of Jerusalem's Old City had been transferred to the Palestinians, in accordance with the Camp David ideas ...

We can unbalance the enemy if both the Israeli people and government are united. The sooner we close ranks, the lower the heavy price extracted from us.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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See also:

30 Oct 00 | Middle East
Barak passes first Knesset test
30 Oct 00 | Middle East
Shas: Breaking the Israeli mould
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