Benny Elon, Israeli Tourism Minister

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, June 16, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: My next guest says there will be no peace in the Middle East until (search) is gone and gone for good. He’s serious. He’s Benny Elon. He’s the Israeli government Cabinet member and minister of tourism.

Minister, thanks for coming.


CAVUTO: When you say gone, you mean dead gone.

ELON: I want to uproot the infrastructure of the terror. I’m not speaking about this individual or this individual. Everyone has his own relations with God, and everyone can be good guy one day.

CAVUTO: All right, but you’re not advocating being a good guy. You think that this leadership should be killed.

ELON: Yes. I really think that the philosophy of President Bush proved itself. I mean security brings peace -- not like the Europeans used to say that peace brings security, and no peace will be without security, and no security will be as long as the infrastructure of the terror with the Hamas groups and weapons and rifles taking over and everyone is afraid of them.

CAVUTO: All right. Now Yasser Arafat had been meeting with some of these representatives of militant groups, including Hamas, and he has been, "giving them instructions for ending attacks." What do you think of that.

ELON: Yes. You know, it’s a kind of temporary cease-fire between gangsters. He said to them every rifle and every gun that you give me, I’ll give you 6,000 shekel instead of it, then you can purchase other guns, and I’ll cheat everyone, and everyone knows that this is not the truth, and because of his...

CAVUTO: So you don’t believe him.

ELON: No. Prime Minister Sharon said to them, if you are serious, if want to uproot the infrastructure, we know where they are. They are not so big.

CAVUTO: Well, you know, you had Richard Lugar in this country, the Senator from Indiana, saying maybe the solution is the United States playing an active role to eradicate Hamas. What do you think of that?

ELON: I have to say that I’m sure that Senator Lugar meant good, and he says something that means brotherhood, friendship, that he also sees the purpose of uprooting the Hamas as the most important thing, but we have to do it by ourselves. We are people of survivors, and, after the holocaust, we decided that we are going to fight for our very survival by ourselves and...

CAVUTO: But do you think American forces should at least be involved in some way, shape, or form in dealing with Hamas? Yes or no.

ELON: I think that America supports us and will support in the future, but I don’t think that we want for the first time to see, God forbid, American soldier that lost his life for the fight in Israel. We can do it by ourselves. We want to do it by ourselves. It’s our job. It’s our duty. It’s our task.

CAVUTO: Well, let me ask you something, Minister. If we did get involved and tried to deal with Hamas on whatever level, do you think that there would be problems for Americans being similar targets of Hamas violence?

ELON: I’m sure. I’m sure that Hamas...

CAVUTO: In this country?

ELON: No, I think that Hamas is part of the clerical, radical Islamic groups. They see America as the big Satan, we are only the small one, and they hate America, but it’s not a question of hatred. President Bush showed them that he’s tough enough. America is a nation of mercy, but, when it’s necessary, they know how to be tough, also.

CAVUTO: Well, Americans are tough with Israel, too. Now, this country, as you know, Minister, was trying to work at getting troops from northern Gaza out of the northern Gaza Strip. It looks like Ariel Sharon took that measure today. Is it enough?

ELON: I really think that Prime Minister Sharon succeeded to pass the road map in the government just with the reservations. The government of Israel did not accept the road map as is, and the first and the most important reservation is, first of all, absolute quiet. If there is no absolute quiet, we cannot move from phase to phase, and, even with inside the phase, we have to have first security and absolute quiet.

CAVUTO: Benny Elon, thank you very much.

ELON: Thank you. Thank you very much.

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