FM Silvan Shalom told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo that Israel does not intend to withdraw soon from the Philadelphi Route between Gaza and Egypt.

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met in Cairo on Monday, June 7, with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at his private residence in Heliopolis. During their pleasant discussion, Minister Shalom clarified that Israel does not intend to withdraw soon from the Philadelphi Route along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

Minister Shalom also discussed with President Mubarak cooperation between the two countries in furthering Israel’s plans for withdrawal from Gaza. The two agreed that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Mubarak would exchange letters detailing the scope of the Egyptian force to be deployed in Rafah to foil attempts to smuggle arms to the Palestinian terrorist organizations. President Mubarak pointed out that both countries should ensure that firing incidents do not occur between IDF soldiers and Egyptian security personnel.

Minister Shalom also met with Egyptian Intelligence chief Gen. Omar Suleiman and Mubarak’s adviser, Osama el-Baz. In both meetings, Shalom heard strong criticism of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat for refusing to transfer security authority to PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei. Suleiman and Baz pointed out to Shalom that, "If Arafat continues to play games, he’ll learn the hard way that we’ve had it with him."

As part of a closening of ties between the two countries, a committee on cooperation will convene at Taba next week to examine plans to establish joint economic initiatives in tax-free zones, on the model of initiatives between Israel and Jordan. Similarly, an Egyptian-Israeli security committee will be established, headed by liaison officers, to monitor preparations for the disengagement from the Gaza Strip.