| Foreign Minister Sharon Meets with US Governors|
(Communicated by Foreign Minister’s and National Infrastructure Minister’s Media Adviser)
Foreign Minister and National Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon, today (Monday), 30.11.98, at the Knesset, met with a delegation of Republican US state governors (George W. Bush of Texas, Paul Cellucci of Massachusetts, Michael Levitt of Utah and Marc Racicot of Montana), who are visiting Israel as guests of the Foreign Ministry.
Using the map of the IDF’s latest redeployment in Judea and Samaria, Minister Sharon briefed the governors on Israel’s security needs and the principles guiding its aspirations for peace agreements with the neighboring Arab states and the Palestinians.
Minister Sharon also briefed the governors on the water situation in the region and a long-range plan for establishing regional desalination plants which are designed to meet the needs of the population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea (which, it is estimated, will number approximately 15 million — Israelis and Palestinians — by 2020). Minister Sharon emphasized that, "Projects on such a scale, which are based on mutual dependence and coordination, will contribute not only to improving the living conditions and welfare of the residents of the region, but will also serve as a powerful impetus for the establishment and deepening of regional cooperation and will contribute greatly to the peace process." According to the plan, the first desalination plant is intended for the Gaza Strip, if the Palestinians so desire, and will be able to supply 50 million cubic meters of purified water annually.
In response to a question, Minister Sharon stressed the contribution of the US over the years, without which it would not have been possible to conclude the various peace agreements. However, he added that the sides must try to reach agreement on their own before seeking American assistance.