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Prime Minister Sharon: My friend, Vice President of the United States of America, welcome to Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people and the united and undivided capital of the State of Israel.
It was approximately six months ago, at the World Trade Center in New York and at the Pentagon, that the clock of history stopped still. Nothing will ever be the same again.
I take this opportunity, on behalf of the people of Israel and on my own behalf, to express our gratitude and appreciation to President Bush, to you Mr. Vice President, and to the entire American Administration for raising the banner of war against terrorism as a most important and supreme value.
In this war, Mr. Vice President, you are not alone. This war was forced upon the entire free, enlightened, and democratic world. This is a war between a civilization, which sanctifies the value of life and the pursuit of a better future, and those who glorify death and destruction and seek to drag humanity into the abyss of despair and desperation.
Mr. Vice President, terrorism is terrorism wherever it may be, there is no good terrorism or bad terrorism. True or imagined injustice cannot serve as an excuse for the murder of innocent civilians. You cannot remain neutral in this struggle. Those who stand aloof and do nothing to prevent it become partners of terrorist forces and cannot decline responsibility and wash their hands off it.
In recent months we have been in the midst of a brutal wave of terrorist attacks aimed at innocent people, civilians at coffee shops and discotheques, youth, babies, entire families that fall prey and are targeted by the Palestinian terrorism. A terror which knows no mercy, therefore the terrorists, their dispatchers and those who sponsor them should not enjoy immunity or refuge. This is what I have to say in this respect.
This is the only way to make them understand what terror really is. Mr. Vice President, just now the funeral of an 18 year-old schoolgirl has been -- she was just brought to her burial-place. And this is something which accompanies us every day.
Israel, Mr. Vice President, is a peace-seeking nation, and we are making every effort to reach an immediate cease-fire and cessation of terrorism to begin the implementation of the Tenet Plan. I have in the past declared that in order to achieve a true, just and durable peace, I would be willing to make painful compromise, but we cannot make any compromise when it comes to the security of our citizens and their right to live without the threat of terrorism and violence.
Mr. Vice President, in the past 100 years, and mainly since it gained independence 54 years ago, Israel has had remarkable achievements in every area, and this can serve as an indication of what could be done, what we could contribute to our nation and to the region in general when peace is finally achieved. That peace, we are all yearning for. The peace which with God's help we will achieve .
Mr. Vice President, I want to thank you for your personal friendship and for standing by the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Your visit to this region at this time is important to all those who are seeking peace. I believe that together, with determination, we will be able to eliminate terrorism and restore freedom and a hope for peace for our children and all the peoples of the region. Israel will continue to stand by the United States and assist in the battle for the defense of our common values and way of life.
Sir, I would like you to know that you are here among friends. This is a friendship that will be permanent.
Thank you very much.
Vice President Cheney: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister. I am delighted once again to be back in Israel and I appreciate the warm welcome.
I have been looking forward to this return visit and especially meeting once again with my old friends, Prime Minister Sharon and with President Katsav.
This is the tenth country I visited in the region this week. I have made this journey on behalf of President Bush, to confer with regional leaders on issues of great importance, especially our cooperative efforts in fighting terrorism and in our determination to promote Arab-Israeli peace and reconciliation.
We are also conferring about other challenges to regional security and the threat posed to all of us by weapons of mass destruction and the relentless efforts of the world's most dangerous regimes to acquire them. I come as well to reaffirm the strong, enduring ties between the American and Israeli peoples and to remind the world that the commitment of the United States to the security and wellbeing of Israel remains absolutely unshakeable. The friendship between our two countries is based upon shared interests and values, a common commitment to democratic institutions, regional stability, economic prosperity and the pursuit of peace.
I would like to repeat our deep appreciation for the support of the Israeli people and their government in the war against terrorism. Israel has stood at the front lines of this struggle for decades. Both our countries have lost many lives to merciless acts of terror. We stand together as full partners to defeat this threat to the civilized world. We also stand together in our efforts to end the brutal acts of terror and violence that has beset the holy land for the past eighteen months and to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. Both Israelis and Palestinians have suffered mightily. Both peoples deserve a better future, one in which they can live and work and play in safety and security, as good neighbors without fear that they risk their children's lives simply by allowing them to go to a disco, or a pizzeria, or by sending them to a school. The United States is determined to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve that future as evidenced by General Zinni's return to the region.
Our goal is clear: to end the terror and violence; to build confidence between Israelis and Palestinians that peace is not only possible, but necessary; to resume a political process that will end the half-century of conflicts on the basis of United Nations resolutions 242 and 338, and the principle of land for peace. President Bush has outlined a vision in which two states -- Israel and Palestine - can live together in peace and security. To realize that vision, the Israeli people must have confidence that their existence as a Jewish State living within secure borders is accepted by all, first and foremost, by Israel's neighbors in the region.
For that reason we continue to call upon Chairman Arafat to live up to his commitment, to renounce once and for all, the use of violence as a political weapon and to exert a one-hundred percent effort to stamp out terrorism. Only then can an atmosphere be created that is conducive to achieving the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, to live safely and in dignity in their own state alongside Israel.
In that same spirit, I will be talking to Prime Minister Sharon about the steps that Israel can take to alleviate the devastating economic hardship being experienced by innocent Palestinian men, women and children.
This visit to Israel continues a series of open, frank, discussions that I have been having with Middle East leaders throughout this past week.
Mr. Prime Minister, I want to thank you for your hospitality today, and to look forward to our meetings. To you and to your country, I offer the respect and good wishes of President Bush and the American people.
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