(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met today (Thursday), 1 March 2007, with British Leader of the Opposition Conservative MK David Cameron. The two men discussed developments in the Palestinian arena.

Prime Minister Olmert updated Mr. Cameron on the trilateral meeting between Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice and emphasized that the State of Israel will neither recognize nor cooperate with a Palestinian unity government – including individual ministers in it – if it does not accept the principles of the international community. The Prime Minister told Mr. Cameron that he will meet again in the very near future with PA President Abbas in order to maintain an open channel of communications between Israel, and explained the importance of the channel in order to improve the Palestinian people’s standard of living.

Prime Minister Olmert stressed that he will continue to maintain the channel of communications with PA President Abbas and with all moderate Palestinians that accept the international community’s operative principles. The Prime Minister expressed his concern over the possible strengthening of Hamas if a unity government is established and stressed the importance of the continuation of a united stand by the international community to uphold the principles that have been determined. He discussed ways to strengthen the moderates by easing restrictions the Palestinians’ living conditions and movement, such as extending operating hours at the Karni crossing until 23:00 in order to facilitate the passage of over 950 trucks a day. Moreover, changes will continue to be instituted at the crossings and checkpoints in order to provide for easier and faster transit in the PA areas.

Prime Minister Olmert discussed the steps that must be taken in order to pressure Iran into halting its nuclear program: diplomatic and economic sanctions, restrictions on Iranians’ freedom of movement around the world and restrictions on the financial activities of Iranian companies. The Prime Minister emphasized that the path with Iran is yet long and will be effective only if there is united action by the nations of the world.

Prime Minister Olmert referred to Israel’s economic achievements in recent months – an especially high rate of growth, a decline in unemployment to its lowest rate in 10 years, a relatively low interest rate of 4%, the strength of the shekel against world currencies and a rise on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.