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Home > News & Politics > U.S. > Sharon gets straight to the point

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Sharon gets straight to the point

Senior Editor
November 14, 2000

Sid Singer/Zipple
Ariel Sharon at a GA press conference Tuesday.
CHICAGO—Following Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's address the night before, Israel's Opposition leader, Ariel Sharon, addressed the delegates of the General Assembly Tuesday morning in Chicago.

Though Sharon is regarded as a hardliner, he took careful measure to emphasize that he wants peace.

"All of us are committed to peace. All of us understand that peace is almost as painful as war because you have to make painful compromises," he said. Sharon, who fought in all of Israel's wars, added that he understands the importance of peace "maybe better than many of the [Israeli] politicians that never had the experience I had."

The head of Israel's Likud party, Sharon laid out specific steps of his peace plan, which he termed a "multi-stage" plan. He said that no Jewish settlements would not be uprooted, a break from Barak's speech the night before, when the prime minister said 80 percent would remain under Israeli sovereignty. He also said that he couldn't support any plan that gives the Palestinians the buffer zone between them and Jordan.

On the issue of Palestinian refugees, Sharon said he would allow them to return to Israel in cases of family reunions or humanitarian situations.

"Israel's not responsible for [the refugees]; the only solution is to resettle them in the countries where they live now," Sharon added at a press conference after the speech.

Other specifics included joint security efforts and economic cooperation, as well as development of person-to-person peace projects, including ending incitement in school textbooks and the Palestinian media.

While not mentioning Barak by name, Sharon criticized Barak for his meeting with President Clinton in Washington on Sunday, specifically that the discussions called for a reduction in hostilities rather than a full cessation.

"Four Israelis were killed yesterday. And if only one was killed, is that reduction?" Sharon asked.

Sharon said that Palestinian Chairman Yasser Arafat has broken every agreement he made with Israel, including Oslo, Wye, and the cease-fire at Sharm el-Sheik, where Sharon said that Arafat committed himself to stopping the incitement.

"Not only did it not stop, it has become worse and worse every day," Sharon said.

Sharon was asked later how he felt about being vilified for his visit to the Temple Mount which some say prompted the violence.

"What do I have to be ashamed of? That I went to the holiest place of the Jewish people"? he responded. "My visit to the temple mount served only as a poor excuse to launch this premeditated, orchestrated campaign."

Sharon sounded one theme that he and Barak no doubt agree on: the fundamental need for the Palestinians to recognize Israel's right to exist.

"Peace can be reached only when the Arab world recognizes not just Israel's might, but also Israel's right," he said.

©, 2000. May not be reproduced without written permission


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