Last night's heinous and cruel terrorist attack at a Rishon LeZion pool hall (May 7), in which 16 Israelis were killed and dozens more wounded, took place against the background of the completion of Operation Defensive Shield, Prime Minister Sharon's meeting with President Bush and the UN General Assembly's condemnation of Israel, concerning the Jenin fact-finding committee.
The barbarity of the bombing attack, in which innocent civilians were slaughtered at a leisure club, was further underscored by the chilling remarks of a prominent leader of the Hamas Organization, who dispatched the terrorist who carried out the attack. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, stated that "the Palestinians love the suicide bombings more than the Jews enjoy life.
The UN General Assembly Resolution condemning Israel was adopted, having received the support of 74 states. This Resolution bestows legitimacy on terrorism, in view of the refusal of the Arab states to include a condemnation of the suicide bombings in the Resolution. Nevertheless, we can derive some comfort from the fact that 115 out of 189 member-states did not vote in favor of this wretched resolution.
Prime Minister Sharon arrived in the United States, with his hand extended in peace, in order to advance the diplomatic process. However, there is no greater obstacle to peace than terrorism. The terrorist attack in Rishon LeZion was a blunt Palestinian response to Israel's peace proposals. Click here to read Prime Minster Ariel Sharon's remarks during his press conference, May 7, 2002.
Israel views the Saudi plan as an important proposal by a leading state in the Middle East and supported by other Arab and Muslim states. Israel welcomes the fact that this influential country has emerged with a message of peace and normalization. Nevertheless, the concrete details of the agreement must be discussed through direct bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Following Operation Defensive Shield, the Palestinians have begun a process of soul-searching. This is a welcome development, which is also in Israel's interest. The outcome of developments in Palestinian society will also affect the lives of our children. If the Palestinians wish to establish a state, they must lay the foundations for this possibility. One cannot imagine a state that has a multiplicity of uncontrollable armed organizations. These armed militias do not only pose a danger to the lives of Israeli citizens. First and foremost, they threaten the very existence of an independent Palestinian entity.
Minister of Public Affairs
Embassy of Israel, Washington DC