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Ariel Sharon Press Conference

Aired November 28, 2002 - 11:30   ET


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: As promised, we are going to take you now to the news conference that is taking place in Israel following the terror attacks. A government official speaking right now. Let's listen.
SHAUL MOFAZ, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): I wish to express my condolences to the families who have lost their dear ones, and I wish to express my wishes for a speedy recovery to those who have been injured, and I wish to say to the state of Israel that if -- or as soon as I found out about the murderous attack in Kenya, I made an offer to send any help that was required. And the city of Israel should know that anywhere where Israeli citizens lives are in danger, the Israeli Defense Force and the security forces will come to help to rescue and to assist.

At the moment, there are IDF planes prepared to take off in order bring back those who are injured and also those who have been killed, and to help family members, providing medical and any other assistance.

In the last two weeks, we have seen an upsurge in attempts to carry out acts of terrorism and waves of terrorism directed at the state of Israel. Our evaluations are that the waves are terrorism are a designed to impede the expression of Democracy here in Israel.

The Israel Defense Forces, the general security force and the Israel police made major efforts. Just in the last week, we have prevented and foiled 15 attacks which were to be directed at Israeli citizens. Over 400 terrorist activists have been arrested in just the last few days.

From this podium, I wish to express my full support to the members of the Israel Defense Forces, of the general security service, and the Israel police, and thank them of all of their valiant and unflagging efforts, and I wish to say to them and to our enemies, that terrorism will not win in any shape or form. It will not prevail, and it will not manage to overcome Israeli citizens, the ability of the Israeli citizens to stand fast for more than two years now in the face of this murderous form of terrorism; shows our national strength and our ability to resist, a very high level of steadfastness.

If anyone had any doubt that the state of Israel might manage to face up to and face off those who killed children, there is no such doubt at all. We mustn't under any circumstances ever allow us spirits to flag. We must be strong about flagging, even at the most difficult time. We must continue with our lives, and we must use everything without disposal to combat terrorism. I very much hope that as a result of the great spirit of Israel's citizens and the excellent abilities of the Israel Defense Forces, we will manage to stand fast, and we will not allow terrorism to prevail.

And again, I wish to send my condolences to the bereaved families who have lost family members today, and I wish to say to those who have been injured, that I hope that they will make a speedy recovery. We must remember that we will prevail.

Now the prime minister.

ARIEL SHARON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): First of all, I wish to express my condolences to the families of those killed this morning in the terrorist attack in Kenya, and the attack this evening, which I will also send my best wishes for a speedy recovery to those who are in the various hospitals in Israel and overseas.

I do know some of those who have been injured I feel personally. The state of Israel today facing a wave of murderous terrorism. Terror doesn't look for reasons to attack Jews. The terrorists have chosen as their goal to kill women, babies, children, old people, and young people alike, simply because they are Jews.

But today, the terrorism has a further goal. The goal of Arab terror today is to influence the Israeli electoral campaign and our very Democratic system. Citizens of Israel, terror will not dictate the agenda of the state of Israel. We are combating terror. Terrorists, those who help them, those who dispatch them, we do this everywhere all the time. We will not stop combating terrorism, and we will hit hard those who try to, and sometimes unfortunately manage to hurt us.

Hundreds of thousands of citizens today are exercising their democratic rights. Terror is trying to frighten them and keep them at home, to ruin our lives.

I call to hundreds of thousands as follows -- it doesn't matter who you support, don't allow terror to frighten you. Don't allow terror to impact. Go and vote! Go and vote! Thank you.

QUESTION (through translator): Prime minister, question, when you say the terror is trying to influence the Democratic system here in Israel, can you specify specifically what you mean? And you're calling for hundreds and thousands of registered Likud voters to go and vote. How can you reassure them that they won't be attacked on the way to polling stations, where we have clear proof that the Palestinians and the terrorist organizations and also the Palestinian Authority, as well as Arab states, want to interfere in the Democratic process in the election process here?

SHARON (through translator): Terrorism is one of the instruments of doing so. I call upon every single Israeli citizen who should be voting today, the registered Likud voters, to go and vote!

And I want to say that in addition to the promise that is made this evening, additional security arrangements have been made by the Israeli police and again I call upon Israeli citizens, go and vote!

QUESTION (through translator): Prime minister, why today, after these two attacks that you chosen to call a press conference? In the past, after major terrorist attacks with far more casualties, you said, facts will speak for themselves. But today, you have chosen to have the press conference. And if you're talking to the voters now, why didn't you agree to sit with your rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, and have a debate?

SHARON (through translator): An hour ago, I instructed the foreign minister to take action in respect of the ambassadors. I instructed him to convene the ambassadors, and I asked him to immediately put into action all of the -- all-out diplomatic authorities, all of our representations throughout the world to explain, and again, outclimb and present the loathsome activities of these Arab terrorist organizations.

Now, as far as this other point, I would refer to this: We must not allow the murderers to ruin our lives. This is the reason why I called the press corps and asked you to come here, to make it quite, quite clear that one must not allow these murderers to ruin our lives.

I would also like to point out how many attacks have been foiled in the last two weeks, and in this connection, I'd like to thank all of the security forces who are waging this incessant war on terror.

Another question?

QUESTION (through translator): Will Israel's policy change vis- a-vis in the light of the attacks, and will Arafat be expelled?

SHARON (through translator): The state of Israel is combating terror indefatigably. It is finding all sorts of ways of dealing with it in the entire security system is having great success. Unfortunately, we are not 100 percent successful. We will continue to act in whatever way seems to us to be suitable and appropriate in order to eradicate terror.

QUESTION (through translator): Prime minister, do you intend to invite the Labor Party members and report to them as to what the minister intends to do?

SHARON (through translator): Well, you know, Mr. Shaiffon (ph), it is my custom to update the head of the oppositions on a routine permanent basis, and in particular when major events have taken place, and this will be done, not saying it will be done today, but it will be done very quickly, and perhaps even as soon as tomorrow.

QUESTION (through translator): Question to the air force commander and the defense minister -- does the air force have a capacity, does it have civilian plans -- or do civilian planes have the ability to deal with such antiaircraft missiles?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Technically speaking, there is capacity. It's not installed in most passenger planes. But if the owners of plane takes up a decision, then there can be such anti-missile facilities installed. As far as I know, most passenger antiaircraft do not have anti-missile facilities.

QUESTION (through translator): So far as you are concerned, firing at a civilian airline is that cranking the level of activity up a bit further, because the securities services tended to think, I believe, that everything that was going to be tried would have been tried.

MOFAZ (through translator): I think that having terrorist organizations shooting at and using missiles against planes is a new stage. Instructions were given today to check out the means, the measures needed in order to reduce this threat. We have to think about this, but also so do -- so does every single country in the world, they have to think about the possibility of having terrorist organizations using missile weapons against civil aircraft, and this is a new tactic, and that crosses both ethical and territorial borders.

Question in English?

QUESTION (through translator): What proof do you have as to Palestinian intervention?

SHARON: I don't have any thought whatsoever to cancel the elections. The elections are a democratic process here. The only thing I called this evening that all the members of the Likud Party, disregarding what did happen, will go out now come and vote. That is what I ask them to do.

I mean, I don't think that you need any more indications. First of all, they talk about that, and then you know, that they have an intention to interfere in our Democratic life and to inference their elections.

SHARON (through translator): Today, we had a discussion. There have been a situation meeting held by the defense minister. We've had meetings with the foreign minister and the defense minister this afternoon. Evaluations have been held with regard to the situation.

So far as steps which must be taken are concerned, and these steps are being taken. The security system underneath the defense minister is coordinating every single step, which obviously involves all sorts of bodies and circles.

Another question?

QUESTION (through translator): What is the efforts doing, planes left? Can you give me specifics?

SHARON (through translator): I can't give you specific information as to the number of planes. I have to remind you, these planes have to take off and get to where the terrorist attack took place. But we certainly are making sure that these planes will reach there in safety.

As I've said, it's the prime minister and the defense minister responsible for giving information of the specific nature with regard to the number or such planes.

QUESTION (through translator): What do you mean when the say the Palestinians are trying to influence our elections? I am trying to get more specific, a more detailed answer about this?

SHARON (through translator): I don't want, the prime minister, to go into interpretations. I think this is an area that you are far better at it than we are.

But, these events, the publications that are given and so on, well, I can add that there is additional information available to the effect that they are interested in -- or they want to affect our democratic process, our elections, relative to which government would be better for them, as it were.

Another question?

QUESTION (through translator): Said several times that you look with concern...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am sorry, transmission has been interrupted.

SAVIDGE: As you've seen, the transmission interrupted there. We were listening to a news conference by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Prior to him there, the Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. And he was saying that planes on the part of Israel are being sent down to Kenya there to help evacuate the wounded and also those that have been killed in the attack.

He said in the last few weeks, there have been an upsurge of attempted terror attacks designed to impede the election process. Now, that is the statement that was also repeated by the Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He said that Israel is facing a wave of murderous terrorism designed to influence the Democratic election process going on.


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