Ariel Sharon: We must give up our settlements

From the Israeli Prime Minister's speech to the Likud Party central committee in Tel Aviv

Under a final agreement, we will be forced to give up some of the Jewish settlements. The Prime Minister is the one ultimately who must decide. It is my responsibility to consider all the factors, to hear all the opinions, and to make the decisions. Together with the other elected representatives, I decide and I must act.

We have not and will not carry out negotiations under fire. We will give no rewards to terror. We will not surrender to the pressure of our political foes who have accepted the Arab position almost entirely. But if we get security, we will give a great deal, a very great deal.

Only with an end to terror will Palestinians achieve a respectable position with the liberty they need. If a new Palestinian Authority is established, free of terror, if the incitement stops, the Israeli government led by the Likud will be prepared to carry out its part to make possible the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, first in temporary borders and eventually under a permanent agreement. It is clear that we'll have to give up some of the Jewish settlements.

If it transpires in a few months that we have no partner, we will have to act alone, with maximum co-ordination with our allies, first and foremost the United States, so that we can give Israel's citizens maximum security. We will draw a security line from which we will prevent passage into our territory. The Israeli Defence Force and settlements will realign themselves according to the security line, and some settlements will be removed. An agreement would be better than a unilateral step.

My disengagement plan is the best plan for our security. This is my plan, and I will see it carried out.

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