Since its inception in December 2000, the Herzliya Conference has become an important annual event bringing together the country's top leaders in government, the military, business, the media, and academia as well as Jewish invitees from abroad, particularly the United States, to reflect on Israel's long-term security. In his address to the conference, the prime minister, while expressing support for the U.S. road map, announced Israeli's intention to initiate a ““unilateral security step of disengagement from the Palestinians”” if they fail to fulfill their security obligations. He also stated his intention to implement an earlier commitment to dismantle ““unauthorized [settlement] outposts.”” The closed-door conference is sponsored by eight institutions, including the Prime Minster's Office, the Defense and Foreign Affairs Ministries, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Agency, and the World Zionist Organization. The White House spokesman sharply criticized the ““unilateral steps”” called for in Sharon's speech, but within hours a ““senior White House official”” welcomed the speech, and the following day the spokesman recanted. The full text is available online at www.israelpr.com.

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