Magazine article Newsweek

Terror, Iraq and 'Full Security': Fresh from Meeting President Bush at the White House, Ariel Sharon Talks about Settlements, Weapons of Mass Destruction and What It Will Take to Make Peace

Magazine article Newsweek

Terror, Iraq and 'Full Security': Fresh from Meeting President Bush at the White House, Ariel Sharon Talks about Settlements, Weapons of Mass Destruction and What It Will Take to Make Peace

Article excerpt

Byline: Lally Weymouth

Israel's prime minister Ariel Sharon came to Washington last week for his eighth White House visit with President Bush. Bush is anxious to promote the so-called Roadmap to peace in the Middle East, which so far has produced a temporary ceasefire on the part of militant Palestinian groups. At their meeting the president urged Israel to make some concessions in order to advance the peace process. In an interview with NEWSWEEK's Lally Weymouth, Sharon talked about his goals. Excerpts:

WEYMOUTH: How did your meeting with President Bush go?

SHARON: I think the meeting went well. I would say there are close relations, close strategic cooperation and a lot of friendship. That does not mean that we always agree about everything. We look with deep appreciation at the steps taken by President Bush.

Are you speaking about Iraq?

Bush understood the importance of taking steps against tyrannical regimes. I believe there are some problems at the present time, but I think history will look at [the Iraq war] as one of the most important steps taken since World War II.

Are you satisfied with what Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen is doing to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure?

There is still terror, but it is quieter and there is less incitement than before. As for the most important thing--steps against the terrorist organizations--we don't see any. The Palestinian prime minister said in Cairo last week that he's not going to act against Hamas and Islamic Jihad--that is worrying.

It is said that the Palestinians have shifted the topics of conversation to prisoners and to the security fence--which are not in the Roadmap. What is your response?

I believe they have to implement the reforms and remove [Palestinian Authority President] Yasir Arafat from a position of influence in the security and financial fields. As for prisoners, we released several hundred already and are going to release more. But we cannot release those that have blood on their hands. As for the fence, the only two places where we have a wall is to protect the Israeli civilian population on the main Israeli highway that connects the southern part [of Israel] with the north. I told President Bush that the fence is not a political border. It is important to prevent terrorists or suicide bombers from entering central Israel.

What did you agree on with the president about the fence?

We will build the fence but try to make it as easy as possible [on the Palestinians]... My first responsibility is the security of Israel's citizens. …

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