|Ariel Sharon's speech at the Israeli-Palestinian summit at Sharm el-Sheikh
Published: 20 February 2005
Briefing Number 133
|On 8 February 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
met with newly-elected Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud
Abbas for the highest level summit between Israel and the
Palestinians for 4 years. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
and King Abdullah of Jordan also took part in the summit,
which took place in the Egyptian town of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Here is the text (translated from Hebrew) of the speech
made by Ariel Sharon at this historic meeting. (We at
Beyond Images have added the section headings in the text
of the speech, to make it easier for readers to use).
After thanking his host, and congratulating the Jordanian King
on the recent arrival of a son, Ariel Sharon continued as follows:
Congratulations to the new Palestinian leader
“Congratulations are due to you, the Chairman of the
Palestinian Authority, Mr Mahmoud Abbas, on your impressive
victory in the Palestinian Authority elections. Your victory
and the path on which you wish to lead your people can signify
real change for your people, which will affect the entire region.
I hope that you will be able to lead your people on the path
of democracy and maintenance of law and order, until the establishment
of an independent and democratic Palestinian state.”
A year of opportunities, a year to end the violence….
“2005 began as a year of great opportunity for all the
peoples of the region, first and foremost for Israelis and Palestinians.
We must all ensure that this opportunity is not missed.
We have an opportunity to break off from the path of blood
which has been forced on us over the past four years. We have
an opportunity to start on a new path. For the first time in
a long time, there exists in our region hope for a better future
for our children and our grandchildren.
We must move forward cautiously. This is a very fragile opportunity,
that the extremists will want to exploit. They want to close
the window of opportunity for us and allow our two peoples to
drown in their blood.
If we do not act now – they may be successful in their
scheme. There is only one answer to them: we must announce here
today that violence will not win, that violence will not be
allowed to murder hope. We must all make a commitment not to
agree to a temporary solution, not to allow violence to raise
its head, but to act together, with determination, to dismantle
the terrorist infrastructure, to disarm and subdue it once and
for all. Only by crushing terror and violence will we build
I have no intention of missing this opportunity – because
we must not let the new spirit, which grants our peoples hope,
pass us by and leave us empty-handed.”
Israeli confidence-building measures
“That is why we have acted quickly and with determination,
with an understanding of the needs of the Palestinian side.
Over the past few days, we reached a number of understandings
with our Palestinian colleagues, which will enable us to grant
both peoples tranquility and security in the near future. Today,
in my meeting with Chairman Abbas, we agreed that all Palestinians
will stop all acts of violence against all Israelis everywhere.
In parallel, Israel will cease all its military activity against
all Palestinians anywhere. We hope that today we are starting
a new period of tranquillity and hope. Further we agreed on
a process of transferring security responsibility for Palestinian
areas. I informed Chairman Abbas of our intention to take a
series of confidence-building measures: soon we will release
hundreds of Palestiinan prisoners, and also establish a joint
committee to explore future releases of prisoners.
We wish to conduct an honest and genuine dialogue in order
to transform these first steps into a sound basis for the foundation
of our relations.”
Israel’s commitment to Disengagement, and the
“I am determined to carry out the Disengagement Plan
which I initiated. The Disengagement Plan was initiated by a
unilateral decision. Now, if new change does emerge on the Palestinian
side, the disengagement can bring hope and become the new starting
point for a coordinated, successful process.
The Disengagement plan can pave the way to implementation of
the Road Map, to which we are committed and which we want to
implement. We are prepared actively to fulfil all our obligations,
and expect the other side to carry out all its obligations.
Only actions and not words – this is the only way to
attain the vision of two states living side-by-side in peace
A message to the Palestinian people: “abandon
“To our Palestinian neighbours, I assure you that we
have a genuine intention to respect your right to live independently
and in dignity. I have already said that Israel has no desire
to continue to govern over you and control your fate. We in
Israel have had to painfully wake up from our dreams, and we
are determined to overcome all the obstacles which might stand
in our path in order to realise the new chance which has been
You too must prove that you have the strength and the courage
to compromise, to abandon unrealistic dreams, subdue the forces
which oppose peace and live in peace and mutual respect side-by-side
A message to the Israelis: “we must take difficult
and controversial steps”
“To the citizens of Israel I say: we have passed difficult
times, faced the most painful experiences and overcome them.
The future lies before us. We are required to take difficult
and controversial steps, but we must not miss the opportunity
to try to achieve what we have wished for, for so many years:
security, tranquillity and peace.”
A message to the Arab world
“And one final call to our hosts and to the Arab leaders
of the region. Come let us join hands and create a new atmostphere
of openness and tolerance in our region. Together we can build
a dam against the radical forces of yesterday whicih threaten
to cry us all into a whirlpool of blood and hatred. Together
we can promote relations between us and ignite the first ray
of hope for all the people of the Middle East. Together we can
ensure our people lives of freedom and stability, prosperity
May we all be found deserving of this great opportunity which
we have been granted.”
At the summit, Mahmoud Abbas pledged to end all Palestinian
acts of violence. The summit has contributed to a sense of optimism
that Israel and the Palestinians can achieve meaningful dialogue
in the post-Arafat era.
To many observers, Mr Sharon’s speech contained “nothing
new”. Experts warned against premature euphoria. To many
Israelis, Mr Sharon is conceding much more than they would wish,
when violence and rejection of Israel are still embedded in
Palestinian culture, and Mr Abbas does not have the authority
to root it out.
Whatever assessment one makes of the Sharm el-Sheikh summit,
one thing is clear: Mr Sharon has undergone a transformation
in his thinking. It is for the Palestinians and the international
community to respond.
Beyond Images Briefing 107: Ariel Sharon,
the disengagement plan and the Palestinians