Sharon told his Likud Party colleagues yesterday that "keeping 3.5 million Palestinians under conquest is bad" and that it must be stopped. This word has always been a buzzword for left-wing spokesmen, while the nationalist camp views our presence there as justified, historically and defense-wise, even if not without its drawbacks according to some.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, asked this morning about Sharon's use of the word, evaded the question, saying, "Everyone uses his own terminology. The important thing is that the world wants to see this dispute resolved…"
Public Security Minister Uzi Landau, one of the leaders within the Likud against the Road Map plan, says that Sharon made a grave error in using the word "conquest." He said that if our presence in Judea and Samaria is conquest, "then the State of Israel's presence in the cities of the coastal plane [Tel Aviv, etc.] is a much worse conquest. We were in Beit El and Shilo way before we were in Tel Aviv, formerly known as Sheikh Munis."
The Foreign Ministry is now considering allowing its diplomats abroad to use the word "conquest." Special regulations currently do not permit use of this term.
Minister Yisrael Katz, the other Likud minister who voted against the Road Map, refrained from criticizing the Prime Minister this morning. His way of negating the word "conquest" was by saying that the status quo does not require us to "control the affairs" of the Arabs in Yesha. Katz also said that he trusts Sharon not to give away the Jordan Valley and other areas of strategic importance.