(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met today (Monday), 28 February 2005, in his Jerusalem office, with Belgian Foreign Minister Karel de Gucht. The meeting was held in a good and friendly atmosphere. The Prime Minister welcomed his guest to Israel and said that he would like to see an improvement in bilateral relations, in all areas.

Prime Minister Sharon emphasized that he is determined to move the diplomatic process forward and to implement the Disengagement Plan and made it clear that Israel will not compromise on the issue of the security of its citizens.

Prime Minister Sharon said that Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Abu Mazen and the PA are committed to bringing about a cessation of violence, terrorism and incitement, and to dismantle terrorist infrastructures, but added that up until today no active steps have been taken to disband the terrorist organizations.

Prime Minister Sharon stressed the importance of the European Union acting to include Hizbullah on its list of terrorist organizations and to halt the flow of funds to Hamas from Europe.

Prime Minister Sharon commended Belgium for the measures it has taken to fight anti-Semitism and to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, and noted that he would be happy to host Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt on his upcoming visit to Yad Vashem in mid-March.

Prime Minister Sharon emphasized the importance of Belgian support for Israel’s candidacy to join the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Belgian Foreign Minister de Gucht said that his government would favorably consider supporting Israel’s OECD candidacy.