March 15, 2004 Mr. Speaker, My friends, Members of Knesset, Ten months have elapsed since the Government of Israel accepted the Roadmap together with the 14 Israeli reservations. During this entire period, Israel was willing to extend a hand to its Palestinian neighbors, and act together with them to implement the Roadmap in all its stages. Unfortunately, to date, I cannot say that we have encountered the same willingness on the Palestinian side. The attempts at attacks, the terror, the violence and the incitement have not ceased during this period, even for a day, and the leadership on the Palestinian side has not taken any steps to stop these actions.
They have not done anything: they made no arrests, did not fight, did not confiscate weapons, did not even bother to try and stop the horrible incitement in the media, education system and mosques under their control which call for the genocide of Jews, not even for a moment. The Palestinian cynicism was revealed yesterday in its full murderous cruelty when, on the one hand, Fatah members took responsibility for the terror attack, and, on the other hand, stood in front of every microphone and denounced the attack in English. The Palestinians must understand that the only way they will live in security and peace will be if they fight the terror, violence and incitement which originate in their area. There will be no peace, there cannot be peace, before terror is defeated. Until then, until the Palestinians understand that their interest obligates them to stop the terror, Israel is forced to act according to its own discretion. Israel will continue to fight Palestinian terror with all its might. We will pursue the terrorists, their dispatchers, those who finance them and those who sponsor them. No murderer, no villain who raises his hand against a Jew or against any Israeli citizen, will escape. Yesterday, the State of Israel lost ten of its sons innocent civilians whose only sin was going to work to bring bread home to their families. I would like to send my condolences to their families, and I allow myself to do so on behalf of all of you, and wish the injured a speedy recovery. I would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate my condolences to the Spanish nation for their painful losses in the horrible terror attack which took place last Thursday in Madrid. Members of Knesset, The terror attack yesterday in Ashdod strengthens the understanding that there is no leader on the Palestinian side with the courage and ability to fight terror. Soon it will become clear to the world that Israel has no genuine partner for peace on the Palestinian side. Therefore, also in the political arena, Israel will have to act according to its own discretion. It is clear that in such a situation, there will be no political negotiations with the Palestinians, and they will, of course, not be able to realize their political wishes and aspirations. I know that there are those who believe that the current situation is better for Israel than any other alternative. I am not one of those who sanctify the status quo. I believe we must change the current situation, and I emphasize, I believe we must change the current situation a situation which necessarily leads to a political vacuum. It is clear to me that within the political vacuum which will be created if the Roadmap collapses, and Israel will not succeed in presenting its own alternative, dozens of political initiatives will be drawn up often, from all over the world. Today, we are already forced to repel such initiatives, which share the idea that Israel must reach an agreement while terror is still going on. In other words, Israel will have to make far-reaching concessions while legitimacy is given to terror. This is, of course, something we cannot accept. This situation places Israel under intolerable international pressure. And I mean the various proposals. There are some who are enthusiastic about the Saudi plan, even here among us, there are those who occasionally raise this wonderful dream. There are those who hear the plan of the Arab League, there is a European plan, there is another plan, and there are also a few Israeli plans which could lead us to the abyss and rise to the surface at times. At the same time, it reduces the pressure on the Palestinians to fight terror. The great hidden dangers to Israel in a state of political vacuum have bothered me for a long time. I mentioned them to the Americans for the first time in a conversation I had in Rome last November with a senior representative of the White House who was sent to meet me. Following that conversation, I held a series of consultations with ministers in the Government and with Members of Knesset, in which I detailed the threats which I believed were facing Israel as a result of such a situation, and the fact that Israel must prepare itself ahead of time so that we will not be caught unprepared as in similar instances in the past. I appointed the head of the National Security Council, Major General (Res.) Giora Eiland, the task of coordinating a comprehensive joint effort to examine the possibilities facing Israel in the situation which I described. Included in the joint effort are the Directors General of the Ministries of Justice, Finance, Foreign Affairs and Industry, Trade and Labor, and representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense, the IDF, the ISA and the Mossad. The team has held a long series of meetings in its full complement and in sub-teams, and continues the joint effort at the present time. The formulation of the plan has not been completed. Correspondingly, I held many consultations with officials in the political and security spheres about this subject, and held a comprehensive discussion with all the heads of the security system, in which we examined the security aspects resulting from steps Israel can take to prevent the situation which I described. In all my references to the subject, I emphasized the importance I attribute to coordinating the steps Israel will take with our allies, headed by the United States. We held a number of consultations with the Americans on this subject, both during the visits of the Deputy National Security Adviser to the President and the Assistant Secretary of State here in Israel, and during the visits of the head of our National Security Council and the Head of my Bureau in Washington. We intend to continue these consultations soon. Members of Knesset, I understand the Oppositions legitimate wish for me to detail here and now the various ideas which were raised by them in particular but also by others regarding this subject. Unfortunately, I cannot do so before I present them to my friends in the Likud, Coalition partners and the Chairman of the Opposition. In any event, it is clear to me that we must be prepared for any situation. I will not accept us being unprepared for a situation which we foresaw so clearly, and when the Government will decide on political steps, I will present them to you, as I committed to in the past. I stated I will present them to the Knesset for its approval, and I will do so. Upon completion of this discussion, a vote will be held regarding my announcement. I ask the members of Knesset to support this announcement. Thank you.