Cheney Arrives In Israel

Photo: AP

Jerusalem----March 18.......Upon arriving in Israel, US Vice President Richard Cheney met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and said he was seeking to revive Israeli-Palestinian talks with an aim to reaching a full-blown peace treaty based on U.N. resolutions. The vice president said both sides would have to make steps to end violence and improve the atmosphere for peace talks.

According to Cheney, the highest-ranking Bush administration official yet to visit Israel, the US goal is clear - "to end the terror and violence, to build confidence between Israelis and Palestinians that peace is not only possible but necessary, and to resume a political process that will end the half century of conflict on the basis of UN resolutions 242 and 338, and the principle of land for peace." Cheney reiterated Bush's vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living 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.

"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,"

- Vice President Richard Cheney

"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," Cheney said, "and to exert a 100 percent effort to stamp out terrorism."

Sharon, meanwhile, compared the U.S. campaign against international terrorism to Israel's battle against Palestinian terrorists.

Sharon assured Cheney the US is not alone in its war on terror, and that "this is a war 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 an abyss of despair and desperation."

Saying "terrorism is terrorism is terrorism," Sharon said, "There is no 'good terrorism' or 'bad terrorism.' Real or imagined injustice or deprivation cannot serve as an excuse for the murder of innocent civilians.

"In recent months we have been in the midst of a brutal wave of terrorist attacks, aimed at innocent people - civilians at cafes and discotheques, youth, babies, and entire families that fall prey to Palestinian terrorism. This terrorism knows no mercy," Sharon said.

"The terrorists, their dispatchers and those who sponsor them must have no immunity or refuge, this is the only way to bring them to the realization that terror and violence will achieve nothing," he said.

An Arab terror suicide bomber murdered civilians
as they were eating and drinking in a Jerusalem restaurant.

Meanwhile, supporters of the Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad organization vowed to keep up attacks.

At a rally of about 600 people in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, demonstrators chanted "Death to Israel. Death to America," and '"No' to surrender, 'yes' to holy war."

"Our fighters will terrorize our enemy everywhere by all means," one masked terrorist told the crowd.

On Sunday, an 18-year-old Israeli girl was killed in a terrorist shooting attack in Kfar Sava; police shot dead the attacker. In Jerusalem, a Palestinian suicide bomber set off his explosives near a bus, killing only himself.

Since fighting erupted in September 2000, 352 Israelis have died from acts of Arab Islamic terrorism.