Jerusalem, 27 March 2003

MFA Director-General meets with UK Ambassador
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

The Ambassador of the UK, Mr. Sherard Cowper-Coles, was summoned tonight (March 27) to an urgent meeting with the Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Yoav Biran.

During the meeting, the Director-General asked the Ambassador to convey to his Government the severity with which Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom view the latest British statements on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Director-General noted in particular the baseless attempt to create a linkage between that conflict and the international campaign against the Iraqi regime and its attempts to arm itself with weapons of mass destruction.

Director-General Biran totally rejected the comments of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr. Jack Straw, regarding the so-called "double standards," reminding the Ambassador of Mr. Straw’s own recent statements in Parliament to the contrary.

The Director-General of the Foreign Ministry emphasized the regard with which the Government of Israel holds the United Kingdom and its people. He commended the British action against Saddam Hussein’s regime and its arming with weapons of mass destruction, as well as against Iraq’s assistance to terrorism. The Director-General also noted the contribution this will make to transforming the Middle East and the world into a more stable and secure place.

It is against this background that the latest British statements are worrisome and outrageous, as they do not contribute to the peace process, and might even hinder progress towards achieving a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.