Ariel Sharon: Why Israel, a peace-loving country, was forced to send its army into the West Bank

From a speech by the Prime Minister of Israel to a special session of the Knesset
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The Independent Online

Our dead lie in a long row: women and children, young and old. And we stand facing them, facing the vacuum created by their murders, and we are speechless. On the recent evening of the Seder, while I was sitting with my family at the table, I received the terrible news of the massacre in Netanya. There is no more dreadful moment in the term of a Prime Minister than that horrendous moment when the telephone rings, or a note is passed during a meeting, carrying Job's tidings.

Victims of coexistence, those whose worlds fell apart while eating at an Arab restaurant in Haifa – their blood mixing with the blood of Israeli Arabs who were sitting beside them. Entire families, Jewish and Arab, are destroyed in the heat of the murderous insanity which has taken hold of our Palestinian neighbours. And thus the killers and dispatchers intend to destroy the hope for peace, hope for the future and hope for a normal life.

It is not a coincidence, members of Knesset. It is not cruel fate. The murderous gangs have a leader, a purpose, and a directing hand. They have one mission: to chase us out of here, from everywhere – from our home in Elon Moreh and from the supermarket in Jerusalem, from the café in Tel Aviv and from the restaurant in Haifa, from the synagogue in Netzarim – where the murderers slaughtered two over-70 worshippers, walking in their prayer shawls to morning prayers – and from the Seder table in Netanya.

And there is one dispatcher: Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. He is the man who, in a series of agreements, promised to abandon the path of terrorism, refrain from committing murder, use his forces to prevent it – and betrayed all his promises. Because of his promises Israel agreed to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. That is why Israel agreed to transfer security responsibility in the areas given to its control.

Thus, Israel agreed to the establishment of Palestinian security forces. We hoped that the Palestinians would understand, as they promised, that ruling does not mean a licence to kill, but rather the assumption of responsibility for the prevention of killing.

But what was merely apprehension at the beginning, and intensified into suspicion, has turned into solid facts which nobody can deny. In the territories under his rule, Arafat has established a regime of terror, which nationally and officially trains terrorists and incites, finances, arms and sends them to perpetuate murderous operations across Israel.

There is overwhelming evidence, accepted by all serious people in the world. For example, in a chilling document, found in Arafat's offices, terror tariffs are displayed. And there is another interesting document, detailing the cost of murdering a Jew. We have a financial report from the "al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade" to the person who served as the liaison between Arafat and the Iranians. The report specifies the cost of an explosive belt, stating that: "we need 5-9 charges each week for the groups in the various areas". There are complete details as to the cost of each deadly weapon aimed at murdering innocent civilians in cold blood. Such and such an amount for a suicide attack, such and such an amount for a charge of explosives, such and such an amount for an explosive belt. The document contains the "bloody" accounting in the handwriting of Arafat's treasurer. This is the bill for the price of Jewish lives at Yasser Arafat's organised bureaucracy of murder.

Peace is important to Israel, but not only to Israel. It is important to the Palestinians, because only through peace will they find their way to existence as a nation in dignity and prosperity. Peace is important to all the peoples of the Middle East, because the continuation of terror and violence encourages fundamentalist elements and regimes to try and achieve their goals through violence.