August 1, 2001
Sharon defends policy of 'targeted liquidations' to Powell
By Aluf Benn and Natan Gutman, Ha'aretz Correspondents and Agencies
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon defended Israel's policy of "targeted
liquidations" to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in a telephone
conversation Wednesday, saying Israel had the same right to defend itself as
the United States, an Israeli political source said.
The diplomatic-security cabinet decided Wednesday to continue the policy of
'targeted liquidations' in spite of international criticism for an IDF
helicopter strike Tuesday on the Hamas headquarters in Nablus that killed
six Hamas members and two Palestinian children.
At the conclusion of the more than five-hour meeting, Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon decided to continue the existing security policy of "pinpoint
liquidations" against terrorists and those who prepare terror attacks. The
ministers who participated in the discussion agreed not to personally attack
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat or to declare the PA an enemy.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who returned to Israel on Tuesday after the
IDF strike in Nablus, led the moderate line during the meeting and said that
there was no need to attack Arafat but rather to strike at terror. Peres
also expressed doubt that Arafat exercises full control over events on the
ground and especially over Hamas and Islamic Jihad members.
The ministers heard long and detailed briefings from security officials
about the latest incidents in the territories and Israel. There was
agreement between Shin Bet and military intelligence heads that Arafat has
control in the field, influences terror and encourages it. During the
briefing Peres asked many questions and made many comments.
Participants in the meeting included Sharon, Peres, Defense Minister
Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Deputy Defense Minister Dalia Rabin-Pelossof, and
Finance Minister Silvan Shalom. Shas chair Eli Yishai, who was invited to
the meeting, did not arrive.
In light of Hamas threats to strike Israeli leaders, Police Commissioner
Shlomo Aharonishky said that the police and Shin Bet security service would
Wednesday discuss how to provide protection for Israeli political figures
Hamas has said it plans to target, following the IDF's strike.
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