Jerusalem, 31 August 1999

Finance Ministry Agrees, in Principle, to Compensation for Maccabiah Disaster

(Communicated by Finance Ministry Spokesman)

The Finance Ministry today (Tuesday) 31.8.99 has accepted, in principle, a request by the Haifa District Court and has agreed to participate in the financial compensation to the victims of the Maccabiah disaster.

The Finance Ministry wishes to make it clear that its agreement does not mean that the State accepts responsibility for the Maccabiah disaster. The State cannot now determine its "contribution" in advance and commit itself to the size of its participation in the compensation, but can do so only after the court rules on the extent of the damages and determines the compensation which will be assessed on the other defendants, especially the insurance companies.

Following is the announcement on behalf of the State of Israel, made before the Honorable Judge Shmuel Berliner of the Haifa District Court:

The State of Israel is honored to announce to the court as follows:

1. In light of the recommendations of the honorable court and in recognition of the humanitarian aspects of the case, due to the existing problem of insurance and even though the State believes it bears no legal responsibility, the State of Israel will be prepared, in principle, to go beyond the letter of the law and participate in rendering compensating to the victims of the disaster, alongside the other defendants and without regard to the question of responsibility (in the spirit of the proposal raised in the announcement submitted by the State on 22 March 1999).

2. The participation of the State of Israel will be in addition to the fair payments to be paid by the other defendants, especially the insurance companies.

3. Nothing in this statement places any kind of responsibility on the State in the framework of the legal proceedings.

4. At this stage, with the level of damage and/or compensation being unclear, the State cannot commit itself to the amount of its participation.

5. The State proposes in relation to the ongoing claims that the process will be carried out outside the courts, in an attempt to settle them in accordance with the foregoing.

6. In addition, separate from the State’s position as a party to these claims, the Foreign Ministry states its willingness to instruct the Consul in Sydney to provide aid for the carrying out of the claimants’ medical tests. The aid will include the opportunity to carry out tests on the grounds of Consulate, and if necessary, the provision of logistical services.