Jerusalem, May 29, 2003

Statement from PM Sharon’s Office
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met, once again, with the Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, and the Ministers Nabil Shaath and Muhammad Dahlan at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. The meeting lasted two and a half hours, and was conducted in a positive and very good atmosphere.

The Prime Minister welcomed his guests, and expressed hope that following the meeting, and as a result of the changes in the Middle East, the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority would move forward in achieving security and peace.

The Prime Minister demanded from his Palestinian colleagues that they act decisively to stop terror, and take real, practical steps, such as: dismantling terror organizations, arresting terrorists, confiscating illegal weapons, putting a stop to incitement and creating an atmosphere of peace. The Prime Minister clarified that only after a real effort to eradicate terrorism has been undertaken, will it be possible to achieve the desired peace.

The Prime Minister repeated his offer from the previous meeting, and suggested that he would direct the security forces to redeploy immediately in the Gaza Strip and in Judea and Samaria in such a way that would make it easier for the Palestinians to take responsibility for security in these areas, and act in a genuine and real manner to stop terror. The significance of this step would be a different deployment of our troops, and in the framework of this change pulling out of city centers in Judea and Samaria, and the reduction of the Israeli military presence there would be included. In addition, the Prime Minister emphasized that if an imminent threat to the lives of Israelis occurs in areas which are handed over to Palestinian control, and no action to prevent it is taken by the Palestinian forces, the IDF would not hesitate to take action to prevent that danger.

In addition, the Prime Minister announced a comprehensive review of Palestinian prisoner lists, in order to assess if there are any who could be released. The Prime Minister also announced a long list of steps, the purpose of which is to ease the living conditions of the Palestinians, foster trade and encourage the Palestinian economy. Some of the steps the Prime Minister detailed include:

  • Removing the closure of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
  • Granting permanent transit permits to senior Palestinian officials, according to the lists which were submitted.
  • Israel would undertake a comprehensive review of prisoner lists, and would examine which prisoners could be released. Israel would release 100 administrative detainees. Furthermore, in response to a Palestinian request, it was decided to release the prisoners Tiysar Chaled and Abu Sukar. Every prisoner would be required to sign a document, which obliges him or her from engaging in terror.
  • It was decided to increase the transfers of Israeli-held Palestinian tax funds to the amount of NIS 150 million per month.
  • A quota of 25 thousand workers will be allocated to work in Israel, 15,000 from Gaza and 10,000 from Judea and Samaria.
  • Overnight stays will be approved for 2,000 Palestinian workers in Israel.
  • The travel permits for Palestinian businesspeople travelling within Palestinian Authority areas and into Israel was increased to 8,000.
  • The series of measures easing operation of humanitarian organizations operating in the territories was expanded.

    The Prime Minister stated that as long as the security situation continues to improve, and quiet prevails, Israel’s willingness and capability to reciprocate in a positive manner would increase, and so would the ability of the Palestinian population to feel the change.

    The Prime Minister clarified to the Palestinian Prime Minister that if the Palestinians would indeed act to stop terror and violence, Israel would consider commence political negotiations, in accordance with the conditions, principles and stages laid out in President Bush’s June 24, 2002 speech, and it is in that framework, it will be agreed to establish a provisional Palestinian state, which would lead to a permanent state.

    At the conclusion of the meeting, it was agreed that a comprehensive dialogue would continue, and in that framework professional meetings would be held at different levels and echelons, while the progress of the process will be supervised by the two leaders.