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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
"Violence is a type of terrorism that needs to be dealt with like terrorism," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared Monday during a meeting of the government's anti-violence committee headed by Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra.
"In terrorism results donâ€™t come in one day," Sharon told reporters at the beginning of the committee's eighth meeting in Jerusalem. "But just like we proved we know how to combat terror, we will also combat violence."
Sharon dismissed police demands for a new budget to fund the war on crime and called on the various government ministries to make internal changes that will create an effective law enforcement system.
"On the one hand we are aware of the severity of the problem and demand a solution," the prime minister said from his seat in the cabinet conference room flanked by Ezra. "But we do not have unlimited finances. Every office, particularly the police, will have to effectively fight violence by making internal changes."
Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit called on Sharon to approve a recommendation to recruit 1,500 soldiers into the police force.
"A large wave of violence needs to be stopped by a large force," Sheetrit said, "and people need to know that they must obey the law."
During the meeting, the participants including Deputy Welfare Minister Yehuda Ravitz, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz, decided to accept a proposal to establish urban police forces under the direction of local council heads and mayors.
According to the decision based on recommendations made to the committee by former police commissioner and current Beersheba Mayor Yaakov Terner, city inspectors would receive authorities similar to policemen and would participate in routine police patrols in an effort to enhance the public's feeling of security.
The meeting turned stormy after Ezra and Livni clashed during a debate over which ministry should be responsible for the Witness Protection Program, which has yet to be implemented. Ezra told the committee he believed the program should be under the Internal Security Ministry and not the Justice Ministry as Livni had planned.
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