FM Shalom talked about the agreement with Egypt on the Philadelphi corridor and the day after disengagement.

The agreement with Egypt:

Q: With regard to the forthcoming visit by Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Soliman to the Palestinian Authority and Israel, do you think that his personal involvement will succeed in preventing the renewal of Palestinian terror, and ensure that the calm continues?

FM Shalom: There is no doubt that Egypt has played an important and decisive role since the disengagement started. It is important to remember that this was originally a unilateral move. In most stages of the process, there was no coordination with the Palestinians. Coordination was established, however, with the Egyptians and the Americans. The Egyptians have played a very important role, since they themselves are concerned with what could happen on the day after in Gaza – since events in Gaza will affect Egypt, as events in Egypt affect Gaza.

I believe that after considerable effort, an agreement has been reached which is good for Israel. Israel has repeatedly claimed that Egypt is not doing anything to prevent cross-border smuggling. I was, in fact, one of those who raised this claim in my meeting with Egyptian President Mubarak. His immediate response was that it was impossible for Egypt to fully prevent this problem, since it did not have sufficient forces in the area. Now, I believe that a commitment has been made by a neighboring country – a country with which we have a peace agreement – to prevent this smuggling. The fact that Egypt has made this commitment can contribute to the prevention of cross-border smuggling and of course prevent the establishment of a terror base in Gaza.

The day after disengagement:

Q: If terror returns, will President Bush give Israel the green light to respond?

FM Shalom: I believe that the disengagement will shape the character of Israel and its government, and will have an impact on what happens here the day after. The post-disengagement developments will bear great significance, as I said yesterday to EU High Representative Javier Solana. If this model is successful, and if calm and tranquility will prevail, there is no doubt that it will serve as a positive model for any future move. However, if this model should fail, and rockets will fall on Israeli cities, then Israel will have the right to respond.

Q: With American backing?

FM Shalom: I think that there will be widespread international backing for such action. I also told Javier Solana that no future prime minister  will take a political step of this kind, partly given the heavy political price to be paid. Therefore, we have to do our utmost to ensure that the disengagement succeeds, both from an Israeli perspective and a Palestinian perspective. The European Union and the United States have a very important role to play.