Jerusalem, 25 June 2000

PM Barak: Palestinians trying to set conditions prior to summit; Israel insisting on sovereignty over Lake Kinneret and surrounding strip of land
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

At the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 25.6.2000, Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the dialogue with the Palestinians is currently taking on a higher profile. This week’s visits by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and peace talks coordinator Dennis Ross are designed to help the US formulate an assessment of whether or not it would be proper to convene a summit. The Prime Minister pointed out that whereas we have responded positively to these questions, the Palestinians are trying to set conditions and make demands even before the summit convenes.

Prime Minister Barak noted that while there has recently been a flurry of media reports about Israel’s presumed positions, these speculative and inaccurate reports do not correctly describe Israel’s current positions in the negotiations.

Regarding Syria, Prime Minister Barak said that Israel is open to negotiations and stressed that there has been no change in the Israeli position to the effect that we are insisting on Israeli sovereignty over Lake Kinneret and a strip of land around it, the width of which depends on future peace arrangements between the two countries.

Regarding Lebanon, Prime Minister Barak noted that the UN has finished identifying the "blue line" – the line regarding the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425 – and added that we are currently engaged in correcting such technical problems as may have recently arisen. The Prime Minister expressed the hope that a solution – which does not infringe on normal life – will be found to the problem regarding Rajar village.

Prime Minister Barak appointed Minister Amnon Lipkin-Shahak as Transportation Minister and as a member of the security cabinet. The Prime Minister announced that final dispositions regarding the Transportation and Tourism portfolios will be made in the near future.