Natan Sharansky Goes 'On the Record'

This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, March 22, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Joining us from Jerusalem is Israeli cabinet minister Natan Sharansky. Welcome, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: Sir, did the United States, which has announced that it's deeply troubled by the killing of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin -- did the United States know this was going to happen?

SHARANSKY: Well, we are not informing our friends about our specific operations, but I think the United States, as the others, knew very well that we will keep every terrorist leader responsible and accountable. And Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was the leader who sent hoards of suicide bombers, of terrorists against Israel, and he was responsible for killing hundreds if not thousands of Israelis.

VAN SUSTEREN: What's your reaction, sir, to the United States State Department saying that this killing will actually increase tension in the area, it won't improve things?

SHARANSKY: Well, I have no doubt that in the days to come, in a few days to come, the motivation of the terrorist organizations to kill Israelis will go up. But their capability to do it will go down. And that's only one battle in the long war against terror. And we have no other way to defend our country, to protect our people, but to confront terror and to defeat terror. It means that we have to continue going after leaders of terrorist war.

VAN SUSTEREN: The United States has said repeatedly that Israel does have a right to defend itself, but tonight there's also a warning on an Islamic Web site that al Qaeda says that revenge will be taken against the United States for this. What's your reaction to that, sir?

SHARANSKY: Well, look, I have no doubt that the day when justice will be brought to Usama bin Laden, or he will be brought to justice, it will be also the day when there will be shouts of revenge and a day of increased danger for the United States of America. Nevertheless, America makes its best, and correctly so, to bring this day of justice to Usama bin Laden. And we have no choice but to do the same with the leaders of terror who tried to destroy our state and who are practically every day are killing our citizens.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why Yassin now? Was there a specific reason that it happened now?

SHARANSKY: Look, Sheikh Yassin for years -- for years -- was the leader of a suicide bombing campaign against Israel. And some months ago, there was already a decision of Israeli government, even an attempt, which failed, an attempt of our army to target him. What happened in the last weeks and in the last days, he was personally responsible for the declaring the dates of the next terrorist attacks and killing people. He was -- a week ago, he called for mega-terror attack on Israel, and the last terror attack, which killed 10 people, was supposed to kill hundreds of people. That's when, six days ago, there was a renewed decision of our cabinet that he has to be targeted as soon as possible.

VAN SUSTEREN: Sir, I'm not so foolish as to think that I have the answer to this ongoing conflict in that area, but do you think that the killing of Yassin will advance the peace process there in any way? If so, how?

SHARANSKY: Well, unfortunately, at this moment, and for a long time already, we have no partner for fighting against terror, as well as we have no partner for negotiating peace. But no doubt, this corrupt dictatorship of the Palestinian authority and the terror of terrorist organizations, the blackmail of terrorist organizations, prevent emerging of moderate leaders with whom we can negotiate peace. No doubt that the end of one of the most dangerous leaders of terrorist war against us, Sheikh Yassin, brings a close to serious negotiations toward peace and to real peace and security, exactly as the end of Usama bin Laden will definitely mean that there will be made a major step towards peace for America and for the Middle East.

VAN SUSTEREN: Sir, is there a list that you have now, that Prime Minister Sharon has, of people that you plan to kill in the, you know, coming weeks and months as part of this campaign?

SHARANSKY: First of all, we are not planning to kill people. We're planning and doing our best to stop terrorist war against us, to stop those who declare proudly that their aim is to destroy the state of Israel and to kill as many citizens as possible. No doubt that with every battle like yesterday, the capabilities of terrorist organizations to kill us are decreasing. And that's why, yes, we made one more step in this long war against terror.

VAN SUSTEREN: And of course, we're always hoping somehow that peace will come to your area. Thank you, Mr. Sharansky.

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