Jerusalem, 6 January 2003

FM Netanyahu Speaks with British Foreign Secretary Straw
(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw phoned Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu today and asked that Israel reconsider its decision to prevent the Palestinian delegation from traveling to London for meetings on the subject of proposed reforms in the Palestinian Authority.

Mr. Netanyahu replied that he supports President Bush’s view that those who are involved in terrorism cannot be part of any peace process. The Foreign Minister added that Britain is doing the opposite, as we face a terrorist leadership in our region.

Mr. Straw responded that it is rather Israel that is doing the opposite; instead of concentrating on fighting terror, it is acting against those who oppose it.

To this the Israeli Foreign Minister replied that Arafat is teaching his followers and children to be "shaheeds" – suicide bombers – and is doing nothing to prevent this. Rather, he is sending puppets to London under the guise of discussing reform. Reform is something Arafat must carry out here, not there – from putting a stop to the incitement to halting the dispatch of suicide bombers. The change has to take place here, not in some publicity stunt abroad.

Foreign Minister Netanyahu stressed that the government’s decision is not directed against Britain, but is a minimum, necessary reaction to events. "It is impossible to continue ‘business as usual’ after such a horrible murderous attack," the Minister said.