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Ariel Sharon Administration: Address to the Likud Central Committee on “Disengagement”

(January 5, 2004)

Prime Minister Sharon addressed the central committee of the Likud Party to affirm his "Disengagement Plan" for unilateral withdrawl from Gaza, which he announced in December 2003 at the Herzliya Conference. Sharon plans on going forth with his plan even if the Central Committee refuses to go along with him. This speech Sharon also refers to the Roadmap with Israel's 14 reservations -- this is the first time in several months that Sharon has referred to the 14 reservations.

Ministers of the Likud Party,

Members of Knesset

Recently elected Mayors and their Deputies,

Members of the Likud Committee

I would like to dedicate tonight to the concerns of the members of the Central Committee. I meet with Ministers and Members of Knesset, hear what they have to say and listen. However, due to the constraints of my position, it is difficult for me to meet with all the members of the Central Committee, and therefore, it is important to me to hear all opinions, even those I disagree with.

Because in the end, it is the Prime Minister who must make the decisions.

It is my responsibility to make all due considerations, hear all the points of view and decide. I, together with the other elected officials, decide, and I must implement the decisions. I was elected to do so. This is what the people expect, both Likud voters and those who voted for other parties. And they are right to expect this.

The State of Israel is facing an historic decision. Either we succeed in ending once and for all the terror against us, or we will have to act, without an agreement, in order to provide maximum security to all citizens of Israel.

We aspire to implement the Roadmap, together with the 14 reservations, in all its stages, as quickly as possible. The Roadmap is the only political plan that can bring about peace, since its first step is the total cessation and uprooting of terror. The Likud has always insisted that only security will bring peace. Only security will bring peace.

This is the genuine vision of peace, and our hands are extended to anyone who is ready to adopt and realize it. However, the test will be of actions, not words.

We have not, nor will we ever, conduct political negotiations under fire. No prize will be awarded for terror. We will not give in to the pressures of our political opponents who have adopted the Arab position almost without reservation.

However, if we achieve security, we will give a great deal. If terrorist infrastructures are completely dismantled, if weapons are collected, if a new Palestinian Authority is set up that is democratic and terror-free, if the incitement is stopped, the Government of Israel that we, the Likud Party, lead, will be ready to fulfill its part and enable the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, at first with temporary borders, and finally through a permanent agreement. Clearly, in the permanent agreement we will have to give up some of the Jewish settlements.

Only abandoning terror will allow the Palestinians to take a place of honor in the community of free nations and achieve the freedom and prosperity to which they are entitled.

The United States, our friend and ally, has given its complete agreement to this. I am acting, and will continue to act in full coordination with President Bush and his team. The Roadmap has been accepted by the international community, which is today united in its fight against terror, wherever it is found, under the brave leadership of the President of the United States.

Israel will fulfill all of its commitments, including putting an end to lawbreaking in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. The Jewish settlers are among the best in this country, men and women who are courageous, full of dedication to the State and to Zionism. However, they must also, like all of us, abide by the law and obey the instructions of the Government and security forces.

If, within a few months, it becomes clear that we have no partner, that the Palestinians insist on rejecting our hand that is extended toward peace, if they continue their terror attack, if they remain entrenched in the camp of the enemies of humanity, then we will have to act alone, in full coordination with our allies, led by the United States, in order to provide maximum security for the residents of Israel.

We will undertake political and physical disengagements until they change their path. We will extend a security line that will prevent any passage to our territory. The IDF and the settlements will be deployed along the security line, a portion of the settlements will be relocated in order to reduce friction and protect our soldiers, the settlers, the residents of Jerusalem and the central region and all citizens of Israel in the best way possible.

An agreement would be better than a unilateral move. An agreement would be better for us, and better for the Palestinians, who will gain much less from the Disengagement Plan than they would from a political agreement.

However, if we reach the conclusion that we have no choice, I will act without hesitation. In the absence of a Palestinian partner, my plan, the "Disengagement Plan," constitutes the best security plan.

That is my plan and I will pass it.

My fellow Committee members.

The security challenge is the most important challenge we face, but it is not the only one. The Government under my leadership has introduced a determined economic policy, headed by the Minister of Finance, of which all the ministers are party to, each in his or her own field. We are not deterred for an instant from tackling the most painful problems that have deterred every Government in Israel.

Now that we have successfully passed the "braking" phase, there is more than one indication that we are on the path of recovery and growth. The economic crisis has left a trail of actual problems. The situation is not easy for many people, and even extremely difficult in some cases. There is great distress. The Ministers and Members of Knesset are sensitive to this distress and are acting to reduce it as much as possible.

Allow me to present an example.

I am especially concerned with the condition of children at risk, from the disenfranchised sectors. This week, following a conversation with several members of our party, I decided that we must push harder for the introduction of a long school day, and at its center, proper nutrition for every child. It is better to cut back child allowances that go to the parents, and instead use the money to provide a warm meal and educational learning framework for every child who needs it. That is one of the steps in the socio-economic field that the Likud must - and will - lead.

This is but one example of the way the entire Likud Party is leading, and will continue to lead in the socio-economic sphere. This is how the largest party in the Knesset works, with a sense of responsibility, through mutual conviction, by making brave decisions and acting determinedly together, only together, to carry them out.

We are the ruling party. We were elected in order to lead and implement. Every one of us has a role to play, because only together, as one person, with one heart, can we realize the hopes of our voters.

We have four more years ahead of us. We have the time and the strength to act.

I am convinced that with your contributions and with our help, we will lead the state of Israel to prosperity and growth, tranquility and peace.

Sources: IMRA [Document courtesy of IMRA News Service]