(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met this morning (Tuesday), 27 February 2007, with EU External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. The meeting dealt mainly with Israeli-Palestinian relations following the internal understandings that were achieved between Hamas and Fatah and last week’s trilateral meeting between Prime Minister Olmert, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

Prime Minister Olmert reiterated Israel’s position that there can be no recognition of the future Palestinian government – or sections thereof – because it does not meet the international community’s conditions to recognize Israel and the previous agreements that have been signed between the sides, and to disavow terrorism. However, the Prime Minister made it clear that he has decided to continue contacts with PA President Abbas in order to discuss issues regarding the defeat of terrorism and the Palestinians’ quality of life.

In this context, Prime Minister Olmert noted Israel’s decision to extend operating hours at the Karni crossing until 23:00 so that the crossing can facilitate the passage of over 800 trucks daily. The Prime Minister referred to events at the Rafah crossing and asked that the Europeans tighten supervision and prevent the passage of people and funds through the crossing.

The meeting was conducted in a good atmosphere. It was agreed that Israel and the EU would continue enhancing bilateral relations in all areas in the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy.