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Sharon: Territorial Concessions Will be Part of Future Peace Deal - 2003-11-27


Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says Israel will have to make territorial concessions as part of any future peace deal with the Palestinians, but he gave no details of what those concessions might be.

Speaking to Israeli media editors, Mr. Sharon said Israel would have to give up some of the territory it now occupies for future peace with the Palestinians.

Mr. Sharon, who is known for his tough policies toward the Palestinians, said he has always told Israelis that tough decisions and painful concessions would have to be made.

Mr. Sharon has repeatedly spoken of painful concessions for peace, but he has yet to define what those concessions would look like.

Speaking to the editors, Mr. Sharon said he would make every effort to bring about peace, but would never sacrifice security.

He said he considers it his duty to achieve peace, and to do whatever it takes to attain that goal, as long as the security of Israel and Israelis is preserved.

And to do that, Mr. Sharon said, he would speed up the construction of the controversial security barrier being built in and around the West Bank.

The Israeli leader also had a warning for the Palestinians. He said time is running out for them to get concessions from Israel.

Mr. Sharon said there is a limit to Israeli patience, adding that the Palestinians should know by now that, what they have not received today, they will not get tomorrow.

He also spoke of unilateral steps Israel may take, if peace efforts with the Palestinians go nowhere, an issue he raised last week. He has not specified what such steps might be, but Israeli media have reported that the prime minister is considering dismantling some Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Continued settlement activity and the construction of the security barrier on Palestinian land are two issues that have been singled out for criticism, even by Israel's staunchest ally, the United States. This week, the United States suspended $290 million worth of loan guarantees to Israel because of the issues.

The internationally backed road map peace plan, which calls for an independent Palestinian state by 2005, has stalled because of non-compliance by both sides. Mr. Sharon is currently also facing pressure from alternative peace initiatives, some of which have won public praise from members of the Bush administration.

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