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Prime Minister Ariel Sharon spoke at the yearly editors' convention at Sokolov House in Tel Aviv on Thursday, addressing the major issues concerning Israel's future.
One of the most pressing issues he addressed was his recent founding of a new political party while drawing major political figures from across the political spectrum. He commended his new political partner MK Shimon Peres, saying that any party and any country would be lucky to have him serve within it.
He outlined part of Kadima's platform, distinguishing its agenda from that of his former party and new rival, Likud. He noted how he was the one who founded the Likud many years ago, but lamented that he felt forced to leave it because of his desire to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - an issue he felt the Likud was not ready to advance. He also noted the ongoing struggles against the "rebels" which occupied all of his time.
He expressed the hope that the Palestinians learned from the violence that encompassed the region and negotiate for peace with Israel, stressing his dedication to proceed with the Road Map while zealously protecting Israel's security. He insisted that Israel would be the only one to determine its security needs.
The prime minister downplayed the dismal assessment by whom he called "an anonymous intelligence source," who reportedly stated that Iran is only months away from the point of no return in its nuclear project. He emphasized that Israel, as well as other countries, could not accept the prospect of Iran possessing nuclear weapons. Still, he said that Israel was preparing for such a scenario.
Sharon expressed his concern regarding the participation of Hamas in the upcoming elections in the Palestinian Authority. He stressed the terrorist organization's commitment to the destruction of the State of Israel even if it would return to the borders before the Six-Day War - something Sharon said would not happen. He told reporters that it was not Israel's place to interfere with the election process, but the IDF would continue with its current policy of apprehending Hamas operatives at checkpoints.
The prime minister also mentioned his campaign against smuggling from Egypt. He noted that he did not distinguish between smuggling of weapons, drugs, contraband or terror experts across the border, and that he was determined to fight against those trends with the same zeal.