Jerusalem, 4 February 1997

NORMALIZATION PROCESS WITH ARAB COUNTRIES BEING RENEWED

(Communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

The United States and Russia yesterday, (Monday) 3.2.97, announced the convening of the Multilateral Talks Steering Committee with high-ranking officials on 20-21.3.97, and of the plenum of the Environmental Working Group during the second week of March in Spain. The Palestinians, who attempted to halt the multilateral process prior to the signing of the Hebron agreement, have already announced that they will resume their participation in all the working groups.

A Foreign Ministry delegation headed by Yoav Biran (Deputy Director, Middle East and the Peace Process) and Ram Aviram (coordinator for the multilateral talks) has departed for Washington D.C. for a series of prepatory talks with their counterparts at the State Department and National Security Council. The United States is playing a key role in renewing the process in this sphere as well.

The signing of the Hebron agreement has created suitable conditions for renewing the normalization process and the multilateral talks between Israel and the Arab countries. Foreign Minister Levy, who views this process as a most vital factor in the peace negotiations, stressed this fact in a message sent to several of his colleagues and during recent talks in Holland and France. This message has been well received by the Europeans who believe that it is within their abilities to widely contribute on the matter through EU Emissary Moratinos.