Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, rejecting pressure from the
Right to initiate harsher military action, said that he is
"sticking to the Mitchell plan," for a cease-fire followed
by a renewal of the peace process. The plan "has not been
exploited," Sharon said, adding that every effort must be
made to reach a cease-fire.
Before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee,
Sharon said the government's current security policy is not
restraint, but to respond to every attack, and implement
"effective defense" on the roads. However, he emphasized
that the policy of implementing harsh attacks in response to
terror has been rejected by the cabinet, since Israel does
not want to close the door on the advancement of the peace
"This kind of approach is preferable to a harsh response. We
all know where that could lead," Sharon warned. "The people
who shouted [at the Likud central committee gathering
Sunday] who think I will change my opinion and bring this
people to war are simply mistaken. As long as there is no
reason to go to war, the shouting won't influence me,"
Sharon said Israel is opposed to international observers but
supports the continuation of the current Israeli-Palestinian
coordination with US involvement. Sharon indicated Israel
may agree to a change in the US role within the Mitchell
commission outline. He said he does "not see a problem in
adding more American observers," as long as they only report
to the committee and are not involved in passing judgment.
He emphasized that despite all of the talk about observers,
the US has not approached Israel about the matter.
Some American sources have said that the US policy remains
unchanged as centering on the Mitchell plan, and the talk of
observers was just a result of European pressure at the G-8
meeting in Genoa. One US administration official said the US
is focused exclusively on implementation of Mitchell and
that the issue of monitoring is "only in the press and
because of the G-8 summit," which released a statement
calling for the stationing of some type of third-party
monitors if both Israel and the Palestinians agree.
Sharon said that when Israel carries out military
operations, it tries to ensure that civilians are not in the
areas and prefers to carry out arrests when possible.
He noted that a list of 73 names of terrorist leaders whose
arrests are being demanded by Israel was supplied to Arafat
twice, including once when it was hand-delivered, but Arafat
has made no move to arrest them.
If there is information on a terror ring, someone enlisting
suicide-bombers or specializing in preparing explosives
Israel will "take care of them," Sharon said.
As for the shooting attack on a Palestinian family by Jewish
extremists near Hebron, Sharon said the phenomenon there
must be "uprooted with an iron hand." He warned that attacks
by Jews could "bring on disaster," and said he has given
instructions to the General Security Service to make every
effort to find the perpetrators of the attack, in which
three Palestinians were killed.
A senior IDF intelligence officer who also attended the
committee meeting said Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser
Arafat has "no intention to halt terror." The official
attributed the rise and fall in violence to the amount of
international pressure put on Arafat, but from his point of
view the armed struggle has not ended.
On the northern border, the official said that the IDF has
identified Hizbullah preparations to carry out an operation
The officer also noted that the Tanzim is again fully
operating after a taking a break following the acceptance of
the Tenet cease-fire document, with renewed activity in the
Ramallah, Hebron, and Bethlehem areas, including Beit
In an attempt to make an impression on the US, the PA has
arrested two activists in the Tulkarm area based on a list
provided by Israel, but they are being kept under good
conditions, and are released to carry out attacks, according
to the officer.
He added that although the Afula, Haifa, and Binyamina
attacks were masterminded by two Hamas-Islamic Jihad
activists whose arrests have been demanded by Israel, there
has been no move made by the PA against them.
Former senator George Mitchell renewed his call on Israelis
and Palestinians to implement the recommendations of the
committee he chaired, a step-by-step approach to ending the
violence, restoring confidence, and returning to peace
negotiations. He described the cease-fire announced recently
as "obviously not fully effective."