World Bank Official Apologizes

(Communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
13 April 1999

In light of the seriousness which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs views the offensive remarks of the World Bank representative during an incident involving an IDF soldier at the Erez Checkpoint on 8 April, Deputy Director General for Economic Affairs Victor Harel summoned today (Tuesday) 13 April, 1999, the World Bank representative in the region Joseph Saba to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In the course of the meeting, in which Lt. Col. D. Lousky from the Office of the Coordinator of Activities in the Territories also participated, Mr. Saba expressed his sincerest apology to the Israeli authorities for his remarks.

He reiterated that he did not intend to cause any offense to the IDF, Israel or the Jewish people, and he expressed deep regret for the affront caused by his remarks. Mr. Saba submitted a letter of apology in this spirit to Deputy Director General Harel. After he was told unequivocally of the gravity of his offending remarks, his apology was accepted and it was agreed that the matter is now closed.

During the meeting, Mr. Saba requested that the close cooperation which has characterized his work with the Israeli authorities be maintained. In response, Mr. Saba received assurances for the continuation if the cooperation with him as the representative of the World Bank.

With regard to the passage of World Bank officials from the West Bank and Gaza to and from Israel, it was decided to maintain the existing contacts and working procedures between the World Bank and the Office of the Coordinator of Activities in the Territories.