PM Sharon Addresses the Knesset's Special Solidarity Session
Jerusalem, 16 September 2001
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Following are Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's remarks at the
special Knesset session held in
solidarity with the American people:
Mr. Speaker, Members of the Knesset,
Last week, the empire of terrorism struck at the heart of our
courageous friend, the greatest democracy on earth - the United
States of America.
We have assembled here today in Jerusalem, the capital of
Israel, the capital of the only democracy in the Middle East, in
order to bow our heads in sorrow and deep mourning over the
deaths of innocent citizens in New York and Washington, of the
innocent passengers whose lives were cut short for no reason on
their part - by criminal terrorists of the worst kind that the
world has known since World War II, and even beyond.
The Government of Israel has declared a day of mourning in
solidarity with the American people. National flags were lowered
to half-mast at all government institutions to mark the awful
tragedy which struck the US.
The hand that dispatched the suicide-terrorists to hijack the
passenger planes in order to turn them into piloted human bombs
- intended to strike at the pulsating heart of the American
economy at the World Trade Center's twin towers in New York and
the US Department of Defense at the Pentagon - in order to try
to undermine the great democracy, which is the foundation and
basis of global security and peace more than any other nation in
the history of the world. The criminal massacre of innocent
citizens was designed to cause the demoralization - and loss of
security - of American society in the country that is the
exemplar of the rule of law and order.
The conduct of the citizens of the US in this hour of crisis,
the spirit of the rescue teams and those who volunteered to
assist the injured, the leadership of President George W. Bush,
Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
and Secretary of State Colin Powell and their aides, and the
courageous spirit of New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani - all
these prove that the US will again emerge victorious from a war
that was forced on it by the dictatorship of terrorism.
The issue of terrorism - to my regret - is not new to us. The
State of Israel has been fighting Arab, Palestinian and Islamic
fundamentalist terrorism for over 120 years. Thousands of Jews
have been murdered in terrorist attacks; Arab terrorism has left
thousands of widows and tens of thousands of orphans. The pain
of the bereaved American people is familiar to us - very
familiar to us. The war against terrorism must be an
international war, a war by a coalition of the free world
against the forces of terrorism and all those who believe that
they can threaten freedom and our values. This is a war between
good and evil - between humanity and those who thirst for blood.
The way of the wicked will be defeated, the way of those who
profess evil will not prosper. The way of the righteous, the
humane and the free, will be victorious.
We know this. We have been in this war for many years.
We were not surprised by Arab, Palestinian and radical Islamic
terrorism. Arafat chose a strategy of terrorism and established
a coalition of terrorism. Terrorist actions against Israeli
citizens are no different from Bin-Laden's terrorism against
American citizens. Terrorism is terrorism and murder is murder.
And we must remember: It was Arafat who - dozens of years ago -
legitimized the hijacking of planes. It was Palestinian
terrorist organizations who began to dispatch
suicide-terrorists. All extremist movements have receive
redoubled legitimacy from Arafat since the murder of the Israeli
athletes at Munich, and the murders of children at Avivim and
There is no "good" and "bad" terrorism - it is all horrific, all
evil, all lacking in human values. There is no forgiveness of
terrorism. There is no compromise with terrorism.
There are no terrorists who are "good boys" while other
terrorists are "bad boys." They are all bad. The Arab countries
are demanding - in order for them to join the coalition - that
Israel pay a diplomatic and security price. And this they cannot
The war against terrorism is also a war against incitement, the
terrible daily incitement in the official media and in the
mosques. It is the incitement that leads to attacks, that
dispatches suicide-bombers, that pulls the finger on the
detonator trigger. In this war, every state that supports
terrorism - is guilty, every body that encourages terrorism - is
guilty, every person who incites - the same judgment. A
differentiation must be made between the forces of light who
sanctify life and the forces of darkness who sanctify death.
Mr. Speaker, Members of the Knesset,
We are all committed to peace. We all want to reach a diplomatic
agreement, but we must not, I emphasize - we must not, allow a
differentiation to be made between terrorism against us and
terrorism against others as terrible as it may be, and the
terrorism in the United States is the worst the world has ever
I congratulate President George W. Bush on his decision to
create a coalition against terrorism. This coalition must fight
against all terrorist organizations, including those belonging
to Arafat: the Presidential Guard, Force 17, parts of Arafat's
security services that are collaborating in terrorism, the
Tanzim and Fatah, who are causing a great part of our losses, as
well as their partners to Arafat's coalition of terrorists - the
Islamic Jihad and Hamas, Hizbullah and the PFLP.
If we are invited, we will join, and in the meantime, the
President of the United States has warmly thanked us for the
help that we have already provided. If we are invited, we will
join because we are already fighting terrorism in any case.
I supported the Peres-Arafat meeting in order to deal with
easing the hardships of the population that is not involved in
terrorism, and to help in reaching a cease-fire. However, in my
opinion, a meeting with Arafat at the senior political level, at
this point in time, while he is actively using terrorism at its
fullest possible strength and has taken no preventative steps,
and in light of the apparent trends, will legitimize Arafat as a
"good guy", and perhaps he might even join the coalition, as the
Syrians might possibly join as well.
This is very dangerous, and it will give Arafat the opportunity
to continue terrorist actions without allowing us to act against
In light of the commitments that the United States has taken
upon itself to uproot all terrorist organization networks, and
out of a desire to prevent the continued bloodshed in our region
- I turn to Arafat from here and call on him to end all
terrorist actions forthwith. If Arafat declares a cease-fire, I
will declare a cessation of IDF initiated actions. If the
absolute quiet lasts 48 continuous hours, our Foreign Minister
will meet with Arafat in order to advance the cease-fire process
and bring about the seven days of quiet that are an essential
condition to the implementation of the Mitchell plan, and to
bring about an easing of the burden on the Palestinian
population in the territories.
I - the Prime Minister of Israel, a free and democratic state -
stand here, and in the name of all the decent and free people of
the world I stand here and oppose all the forces of evil that
have brought about the rising wave of terrorism that threatens
the foundations of human society. I oppose all those who relate
to innocent civilians - women and children, babes in their
mothers arms - as legitimate targets, and against states and
organizations that - with premeditation - fund, support and
encourage the bloodthirsty terrorists.
I want to say to all those today - I hope your time has passed.
I wish to send my condolences to the American people, to
President George W. Bush. In this difficult hour, our hearts are
May it be His will that the approaching new year should be good
and bring security and peace to the world. May it be His will.