Meeting of FM Levy with Western European Ambassadors in Israel

(Communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
June 21, 2000

Foreign Minister David Levy met for lunch on June 20 with nineteen Western European ambassadors in Jerusalem.

At the beginning of the meeting, Foreign Minister Levy noted the fruitful cooperation with Europe, which has been clearly reflected recently with the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU, a meeting this month with the Association Council in Luxembourg, Israel’s acceptance as a member of the UN Western European and Others Group (WEOG), and the establishment of the Israel-EU forum for economic, commercial and cultural cooperation.

Foreign Minister Levy updated the ambassadors on the peace process with the Palestinians, the withdrawal from Lebanon and his perception of the new situation in Syria.

With regard to Syria, Foreign Minister Levy stated:

"Let us hope that President Bashar Assad will pursue a constructive approach that will lead to stability. He belongs to a new generation, he is a man of the world, and we hope that he will adopt a new approach. According to what we have heard from the recent Ba’ath Party conference, the situation is worrying. They are dragging the world back into dark times in which there is no expression of peace, and in which Israel is depicted as an enemy which must be stopped. This does not bode well, and the adoption of this path will lead to collapse."

With regard to the negotiations with the Palestinians, Foreign Minister Levy stated:

"The Government has released more prisoners than those provided for in its commitments in any agreement. The Palestinian Authority, however, is releasing prisoners who have carried out attacks against Israel. This is a clear violation of the agreements, which may serve as an indication of future intentions. There is no alternative to the peace process. The insistence on all or nothing is blindness. I hope that the recent inflammatory declarations will not prevent them from later descending from the tree which they climbed up."

With regard to Lebanon, Foreign Minister Levy stated that "the onus is now fully on the Lebanese government to show the extent to which it is in control of the territory, and whether it will deploy its forces along the border."

Prior to the meeting with the ambassadors, Minister Levy received the Ambassador of Germany in Israel, Theodor Wallau, on the occasion of the termination of his tour of duty in Israel. Levy praised the professional work of the ambassador for the benefit of Israel-German relations, which he described as very good and of a unique nature. Foreign Minister Levy presented Wallau with a gift from Jerusalem.