Jerusalem, 23 June 1996

FM LEVY MEETS WITH EGYPTIAN AMBASSADOR

(Communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

Foreign Minister David Levy met with Egyptian Ambassador Muhammad Bassiouny on Friday, 21.06.96. At the beginning of the meeting, Ambassador Bassiouny invited Foreign Minister Levy to make an official visit to Egypt. Levy stated that, due to the growing tension in the Arab world surrounding the new Israeli government, and because the government has only been in office for a week, a visit to Egypt is not yet justified.

Foreign Minister Levy made clear that the government’s message is one of a secure peace, and that its strong will to achieve this reflects its belief that peace is a supreme value.

"This government has no intention of saying ‘no,’ it intends to say ‘yes,’ and Israel will honor the agreements which it has signed, as the Prime Minister has stated," Levy said. The growing tension arround us is not understandable and raises questions, as well as running counter to the creation of an atmosphere of dialogue and political discussion. Increased tension does not create an atmosphere for dialogue; instead, it gives the impression that there is a desire to pressure Israel and dictate everything to it in advance.

The Israeli government should be given time to arrange matters and to study the issues at hand. Egypt, given its standing and as the pioneer of peaceful relations with Israel, should proceed in this direction. Progress on the path to peace will not be achieved by pressure or threats, in an attempt to dictate conditions. That is contrary to the spirit of honest dialogue.

The Foreign Minister sought especially to emphasize the message that the Israeli government seeks a secure peace. The test is in open discussion and dialogue, and Israel intends to conduct a dialogue with all parties, without exception. Levy recalled the words of President Mubarak, who once told him that the agreements reached with the Likud government are etched in stone. Levy stressed that an agreement with the current government is an agreement with a majority of the Israeli people.

The Foreign Minister said that the government’s guidelines contain a message of secure peace, but that they contain nothing extreme. Each side can formulate its position before entering negotiations, and it does not have to accept the position of the other side before talks have begun. Formulating a position, said Levy, does not mean imposing preconditions on the other side. Israel is not imposing its position as a precondition for negotiations with Syria, just as it does not accept Syria’s position as a condition for negotiations.

Mr. Levy added that Israel wants to make progress in its negotiations with all parties, including the Palestinian Authority.