JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says he has no intention of dismantling the security fence he is building to protect Jewish neighborhoods from Palestinian terrorists, no matter what the United Nations decides when it debates the issue on Tuesday (Oct. 14). Neither, he said, will there be a Palestinian state unless five specific conditions are met.
In a nearly one-hour interview at his home in Jerusalem, Sharon appeared relaxed as he sipped tea behind a desk. Wearing a blue suit with an Israeli flag lapel pin, Sharon said that while he does not believe the peace "road map" drawn up by the United States, European Union and Russia is dead, he suggested it is a long way from success.
In order for him even to consider agreeing to the establishment of a Palestinian state contiguous to Israel, he said, the Palestinian side must meet five conditions: "(1) dismantle the terror organizations such as Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Hamas and make a 100 percent effort to end terrorism; (2) collect its weapons and hand them to a third party, preferably the United States, which will destroy them; (3) arrest, interrogate and punish terrorists, their supporters, their commanders (who are implicated in) murder; (4) take all necessary diplomatic steps and stop incitement and (5) at least start to teach peace (to children)."
Asked if he saw the Palestinians making any efforts to even begin fulfilling one or more of these conditions, Sharon said, "Not by now." Sharon indicated he is weary of "declarations, speeches and promises," which, he said, he no longer considers "something serious" Only "performance" matters now in Israel's relationship with the Palestinians.
Sharon regards the fence he ordered constructed as essential to the defense of some of Israel's residential neighborhoods against terrorist bombers. "When it comes to our security," he said, "it (will) be for Israel to decide what are the needed steps." To emphasize his point, he handed me a sheet of paper that listed the number of Israelis killed by terrorists in the last two years and a comparative ratio to how many would have died in Russia, the European Union and the United States. As of Oct. 11, 884 Israelis had been murdered and 5,956 injured. Israel has a population of 5 million. In Russia, the comparable murder rate would be 25,636; in the European Union, 67,184, and in the United States, 49,150. His point is that no other country would put up with such attacks on its own citizens as Israel has been repeatedly pressured to do.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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