Jerusalem, 3 April 2000

PM Barak Meets Dutch PM Kok

(Communicated by Prime Minister’s Media Advisor)

Prime Minister Ehud Barak yesterday (Sunday) 2.4.2000 met Netherlands Prime Minister Willem Kok, who is currently in Israel on a working visit.

The two leaders discussed the peace process at length and developments on the Syrian track in detail. Prime Minister Barak emphasized his intention to withdraw the IDF from southern Lebanon by July in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 425, whether or not there is an agreement with Syria. He added that he recommends that no group try to test Israel’s response to any attack on its territory following the withdrawal, because there will no justification, legitimacy or pretext whatsoever for such an attack.

Regarding the Palestinian track, Prime Minister Barak stated that the talks are making progress toward a framework agreement, but it is too early to know whether all the gaps can be bridged. He noted that both sides will have to show flexibility in order to reach an agreement.

Dutch Prime Minister Kok praised the level of bilateral relations. At the request of Prime Minister Barak, he detailed the recent measures in the Dutch economy that have reduced the deficit and unemployment.

Prime Minister Barak noted that one of the problems in the Israeli economy is the pressure from certain elements to take populist steps that would provide apparent short-term improvements for certain sectors, but would cause long-term harm to the public at large.