Sharon refused to rule out new air strikes against Syria. He said Syria harbors "about 10" terrorist organizations. He said Hezbollah has "a huge system of rockets - about 11,000 now - in southern Lebanon, most of them provided by Iran, but quite a number of them provided by Syria." He said he hoped the air strike he ordered against what he said was a terrorist camp in Syria would be a "one-time action, but that depends on the situation."
What about his old nemesis, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, whom he has repeatedly threatened to expel from the region? Does he still plan to expel him? "I will not take that out of consideration," Sharon replied.
He also seemed to mock the inability of Arafat to pick a prime minister who would last long enough to engage in negotiations with Israel. "The current one (Ahmed Korei) agreed to serve only 30 days."
About the recently resigned Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, Sharon said, "Arafat was undermining him from the first day. Instead of taking necessary steps against the terrorist organizations, (Abbas) decided to make a deal with them. We talked to him many times. I always warned him. I told him they are going to hurt (you), they are going to hurt us, but he still preferred to make deals with them, and that's what happened. That's what sent the prime minister to his end."
Sharon praised President George W. Bush who, he said, "understands the danger of terror and that one cannot compromise with terror and has to fight terror." He added, "In the past, if we had had such a determined leader when the world was watching the Nazis and their preparations (for war), maybe the terrible tragedy we suffered in World War II might have been avoided."
Is he optimistic about the future? "Yes, I'm an optimist. This is not the hardest period (in our history). We have had much harder situations."
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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