(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met this afternoon (Sunday), 19 June 2005 with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. The two men discussed the expected 30 June 2005 signing of a natural gas agreement; the Prime Minister expressed his satisfaction over the agreement.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Gheit conveyed greetings from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and said that the latter was encouraged by the Sharm el-Sheikh meetings and the progress that has been made in their wake. Prime Minister Sharon sent his greetings to Egyptian President Mubarak and said that he hopes that Egyptian Foreign Minister Gheit will accompany the Egyptian President on his upcoming visit to Israel.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Gheit expressed satisfaction over the state of bilateral relations and said that Egypt intends to continue moving them forward in all areas. He said that signing the gas and QIZ agreements would show the Egyptian population the fruits of bilateral relations.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Gheit said that the Palestinian Authority led by Abu Mazen needs assistance from Israel, mainly civilian assistance. He said that the meeting between Prime Minister Sharon and Abu Mazen would be of utmost importance for the continuation of the process. The Egyptian Foreign Minister added that it is clear to Egypt that leaving Gaza is a very difficult step for Israel and that courage will be required of Prime Minister Sharon to carry it out.

Prime Minister Sharon said that the disengagement would be carried out according to the decisions of the government and the Knesset, despite the difficulties. He added that after disengagement, the only diplomatic plan was the Roadmap, and this after the Palestinians will have carried out their
commitments: Halting terrorism and violence, disbanding the terrorist organizations, collecting their weapons, halting incitement and carrying out administrative reforms. If this occurs, we will be able to begin negotiations according to the Roadmap. He added that while Israel was ready to take many steps in order to strengthen the Palestinian leadership, it would not agree to compromise on security issues.

Prime Minister Sharon emphasized that Israel would not allow weapons and ammunition to be delivered to the Palestinian Authority; however, he said that Israel did not rule out foreign assistance to the Palestinians regarding non-military equipment and added that this would be coordinated with the US envoy General Wood.