The following is the text of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s victory address following Tuesday’s Israeli elections:
“My friends, those who are seated on the dais and those who are in the hall, I want first of all to say thanks to all of those who aided me and stood beside me in this battle.
“Thanks to the voters, who believed in my path, the path of the Likud. Thanks to all of Israel’s citizens, who came to vote today and to determine how the country will act in the coming years. To everyone, thank you, thank you.
“This is a day of victory for all of us, a historic victory, a great victory. It is permissible to be gladdened by the victory, but there is no room for celebrations.
“The battle against the terrorist organizations has not ended. It exacts victims every day. The Iraqi threat hangs over our heads. The socioeconomic crisis still threatens the stability of the economy, and the chances for prosperity for all of Israel’s citizens.
“Today is not the time for celebrations — no celebrations. This is a time for soul-searching, for coming together in unity, for fusing all forces in order to bring about a genuine victory — victory over terrorism, and the beginning of a true peace process. Victory over unemployment and renewal of economic growth. Then and only then will we celebrate the triumph of the Israeli people.
“Exactly three months ago, the national unity government was dismantled, and the country was dragged into an unnecessary election campaign. The left presented its program, and I presented my program, which was in line with the principles of President Bush’s speech. . . .
“The people has had its say. It has decided on my program, a plan that is loyal to the historic path of the Likud, and which is appropriate to the present security and diplomatic reality. Now it is incumbent on all the political forces to carry out the will of the voter. This is the meaning of democracy, the decision, made in the polling station, between the different alternatives, and coming together the day after, in order to do the will of the people.
“Narrow political considerations and things said in the heat of the campaign must not now turn into an obstacle in the path of national unity. Bitter things were said during the campaign, from all sides, and weighty accusations were hurled. This is the way of elections; I have already been in many election campaigns. I am used to this.
“But today, nonetheless, we must put this aside. We must put the hostility of the struggle behind us. I excuse and forgive all those who tried to hurt me, slander me, and tarnish me. I excuse and forgive, because what unites us is more important that what divides us.
“I say to all the parties, the differences between us are dwarfed by the murderous hatred of the terrorist organizations of anything Israeli and Jewish, the threat of the war in the Gulf and attacks on Israel and the economic crisis that is ripping Israeli society apart.
“Israel must not be left split apart internally, eaten up by blind hatred — not at a time of war, not at a time of crisis, not now.
“Israel needs unity. Israel needs stability. Israel needs both quickly, before the crisis deepens.
“Some 10 years ago, at a ceremony at Binyanei Ha’Uma in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of blessed memory said, and I quote, ‘We do not forget for even a moment that whether they agree with our moves, or whether they oppose them, we are all brothers, we are all Jews, and all of us share one fate. . . . We must continue together in order to reach the shared goal, with the good of the country taking precedence over all personal and partisan considerations.’
“Citizens of Israel, the election campaign is over. The arguments are over. Now is the time to act together. I am hereby announcing that after the president assigns me the task of forming a government, I will ask all Zionist parties to join a unity government that will be as broad as possible.
“This is the will of the people. The basis of the establishment of the unity government will be the fundamental principles of the outgoing unity government, to which most of the parties represented in the new Knesset have already agreed. The diplomatic plan that I presented is a plan that can bring Israel victory over terror and make a true opening toward peace.
“Alongside this, the government led by me will immediately free funds from the budget and from outside the budget to revive growth and encourage industry, and act to increase immigration to Israel from all of the Jewish Diaspora …
“We will act together, as one person, with one heart, without ruling out anyone. . . .
“The eyes of the people, of the world, are upon us. Everyone is waiting to see if Israel will act together, united, in order to achieve its aims: security, prosperity, quiet and peace. This is possible. It depends only on us, and with the Lord’s help, it will come about. Then and only then, the time for celebrations will have come.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.