Jerusalem, 1 May 2000

PM Barak Meets Australian PM Howard
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Barak yesterday (Sunday) 30.4.2000, met with Prime Minister of Australia John Howard.

The Prime Minister briefed Prime Minister Howard on the peace process, stating that the Palestinians must have territorial congruity in order for there to be a separation between them and Israel. One should not confuse the villages Azariya and Abu-Dis as being part of Jerusalem towards which all Jews pray. No-one is talking about transferring to the Palestinians any territory that they do not already control, but the transfer of 3% of the 39.2% already under Palestinian rule from area B to area A.

The Prime Minister added that from the security perspective, it is better that in the final settlement, the Palestinians control densely populated areas that Israel has no interest in annexing. It is therefore preferable that such areas fall under the security responsibility of the Palestinians rather than Israel who would find it difficult to carry out such a task. Such a step would strengthen – not weaken – Jerusalem and Israel’s determination to maintain united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty as its capital.

The Prime Minister referred to the Maccabiah disaster in which several members of the Australian delegation lost their lives. He stated that he instructed the Finance Ministry to pay one third of the court order compensation to the victims’ families. he expressed the hope that this modest contribution by the government of Israel will put an end to the tragedy, and that the Australian Jewish community would retract its decision not to attend future Maccabiah Games.

The Prime Minister also discussed coalition matters and upcoming Knesset votes.