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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Sharon on Mitchell report: Excerpts
Sharon addresses press conference in Jerusalem
Sharon called for a return to the negotiating table
Excerpts from a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem, following publication of the Mitchell report. Mr Sharon said Palestinian violence must stop, but he rejected the report's call for a freeze on settlement activity.

It has been eight months since Israel found itself on the front line of terrorism and violence that was forced on us by our Palestinian neighbours...

We are first and foremost committed to taking action to safeguard the state's security and our citizens' well-being.


Peace requires painful concessions on both sides.

Ariel Sharon
I call on our Palestinian neighbours: We will achieve peace only by talking.

Peace requires painful concessions on both sides, but it can be only achieved at the negotiating table. The events of the past months have again reminded us of the heavy price the two nations have been paying.

'Positive foundation'

Israel views the Mitchell report as a positive foundation that can enable the two sides to break through the cycle of violence and to return to the negotiating table.

I seize this opportunity to call on Arab states with which we do not have a peace agreement as yet - most notably Syria and Lebanon, with which we share a border - to embark on the path of peace.


There is no link between halting the violence and the question of the settlements.

Ariel Sharon

I called this evening for a general ceasefire in the area. The ceasefire must be observed by all the parties involved... I hereby reiterate that if the Palestinians accept the proposal to halt the firing, we will immediately cease the firing.

'Enough land'

Concerning the settlements, as the US secretary of state stressed, there is no link between halting the violence and the question of the settlements. This issue should be discussed in the future by the sides.

We definitely see no need to confiscate land for the needs of the settlements. The settlements were established on state land, and there is enough land there...

When the terror stops - followed by an adequate and significant cooling-off period, as stated in the Mitchell Report - we will definitely be prepared to negotiate with the PNA.


If there is a ceasefire, we definitely take it upon ourselves to abide by it except, of course, in real cases of life or death or in case of necessity.

Ariel Sharon
However, in my opinion, as long as the terror continues and they behave like a terrorist body, they should be treated as one.

I think it is important that the Palestinian leaders, as well as the leaders of the neighbouring countries, should hear our call for a ceasefire directly and clearly.

If there is a ceasefire, we definitely take it upon ourselves to abide by it except, of course, in real cases of life or death or in case of necessity.

People understand that upholding life in an independent state entails defending the lives of the citizens on the one hand and understanding that this is a protracted process on the other.

However, I believe that at the end of this process we will reach security, a political arrangement, and ultimately also peace. I believe in this, and I look to the future with optimism, indeed with great optimism.

Source: Voice of Israel, Jerusalem, in Hebrew 22 May 01

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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23 May 01 | Middle East
22 May 01 | Media reports
21 May 01 | Americas
21 May 01 | Middle East
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