Jerusalem, January 18, 2004

PM Sharon and senior ministers hold discussion ahead of ICJ deliberations
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Justice Minister Joseph Lapid and Minister Meir Sheetrit met this afternoon (Sunday), January 18, 2004, with the steering committee and the legal task force that have been appointed to prepare for the International Court of Justice in the Hague’s discussion of the terrorism prevention fence.

Acting Attorney General Edna Arbel, Prime Minister Bureau Director Dov Weisglass, Foreign Ministry Director-General Yoav Biran, Prime Minister Sharons and Defense Minister Mofaz’s military secretaries, Foreign Ministry Legal Adviser Alan Baker, Dr. Meir Rosen, the Director of International Law in the IDF Judge Advocate General’s office and other senior Foreign, Defense and Justice Ministry officials also attended the meeting.

The goal of the discussion was to present the ministers with a summary of the expected courses of action in the diplomatic, military, informational and legal spheres.

At the beginning of the meeting, Prime Minister Sharon said: "We are not discussing a change in the route of the fence, and there will be no change as a result of Palestinian or UN demands, including those from the Court. A re-discussion of the fence’s route will take place only as a result of internal Israeli deliberations. The operative experience that has accumulated over the last few months in which the fence was being constructed was both good and bad. It was excellent at preventing terror but was not satisfactory in all matters relating to the damage to Palestinians’ quality of life. I am personally monitoring the problems arising from the operation of the fence and am familiar with the complaints about it; it is possible that additional thought is needed to allow for the possibility of changing the route, in order to reduce the number of mishaps in operating the fence without harming security.

Other considerations, even if for domestic Israeli reasons, are a difficult determination that I received in any case from Acting Attorney-General Arbel and which indicates legal difficulties in defending the State’s position before the High Court of Justice on certain points related to the route of the fence. This is an internal legal position that must be considered with due seriousness and this I will do."

Foreign Ministry Director-General Biran reported on the diplomatic situation and the preparations for international diplomatic efforts.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz’s Military Secretary, Brig.-Gen. Michael Herzog, reported on the security and intelligence situations.

Foreign Ministry Legal Adviser Baker gave an update on contacts with international legal experts on the issue.

Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General for Information and Media Gideon Meir reported on the media and information campaign ahead of, during and after the Hague discussion.

It was agreed that at this stage, the task force would prepare a range of professional positions on the basis of the fence’s existing route; if Israel – for humanitarian and domestic reasons – decides to change the route, the task force will, of course, adapt the professional opinions in accordance with the changes.    
 PM Sharon and senior ministers hold discussion ahead of ICJ deliberations-18-Jan-2004
 PM Sharon and senior ministers hold discussion ahead of ICJ deliberations-18-Jan-2004
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 PM Sharon and senior ministers hold discussion ahead of ICJ deliberations-18-Jan-2004
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 PM Sharon and senior ministers hold discussion ahead of ICJ deliberations-18-Jan-2004
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