Jerusalem, 5 September 1999

Cabinet Approves Sharm el-Sheik Agreement

(Communicated by the Prime Ministers Media Adviser)

The Cabinet today (Sunday), 5.9.99, approved the Sharm El-Sheikh agreement by a vote of 21-2. (Interior Minister Natan Sharansky and Construction and Housing Minister Yitzhak Levy voted against the agreement.)

The agreement secured a three-month postponement of the main part of the withdrawal thereby facilitating intensive discussion — in a positive atmosphere of mutual confidence — of a framework agreement for the permanent settlement as a mutually agreed-upon goal. The agreement strengthens the intimate dialogue between Israel and the US, as it existed during the Rabin era.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak spoke of the difficulty and pain necessarily entailed in separating from parts of the Land of Israel, according to the Wye Agreement, which was signed by the Netanyahu government. The Prime Minister added that he has emotional connections, which stem from both the power of our history and the fact that Israelis under the aegis of successive governments — have invested their lives and dreams in settling the land, which has public, emotional and security significance. However, Prime Minister Barak said that he is convinced that the political process will strengthen the long-term security of the State of Israel and its citizens.