(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met this evening (Sunday), 13 March 2005, with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who has arrived in Israel for the dedication of the new Yad Vashem Museum.

Prime Minister Sharon thanked UN Secy.-Gen. Annan for the special session of the UN General Assembly to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Prime Minister Sharon briefed his guest on the Palestinian situation and said that the Palestinian Authority (PA) must fulfill its Roadmap commitments. The Prime Minister added that he regrets that up until now the Palestinians have not taken enough steps to dismantle the infrastructures of terrorism, even if the situation is better than it has been in the past. The Prime Minister emphasized that the relative quiet has not been achieved due to active efforts by the PA.

Prime Minister Sharon told UN Secy.-Gen. Annan about the progress in implementing the Disengagement Plan and briefed him on the political situation in Israel, against the background of the Disengagement Plan.  The Prime Minister said that the Plan would be implemented according to the timetable that has been agreed upon by the Government.

Prime Minister Sharon stressed that alongside Israel’s intention to move forward in the diplomatic process, the Palestinians must wage a serious fight against terrorism.  He added that Israel would not compromise on this demand: “Without genuine action by the Palestinians against terrorism, it will be unable to move anything forward.”

UN Secy.-Gen. Annan said that the Holocaust was an inconceivable disaster and that the world cannot forget this.

UN Secy.-Gen. Annan commended Prime Minister Sharon on the Disengagement Plan and said that its implementation proves great courage and determination, in light of the political difficulties. He added that the international community salutes the Prime Minister’s determination and courage to implement the Disengagement Plan and move forward on the steps that he is leading.

UN Secy.-Gen. Annan said that he hopes the issue of Israel’s budget will be successfully resolved so as to enable the continuation of dealing with the important issues on the agenda.

UN Secy.-Gen. Annan said that the UN was very happy over Israel’s desire to coordinate disengagement matters with the Palestinians and added that he hopes that the implementation of disengagement will lead to a return to the Roadmap process. He added that the Palestinians must fulfill their commitments against terrorism and carry out reforms, the latter having been discussed at the London conference. The UN Secy.-Gen. said that Abu Mazen has carried out positive steps such as deploying his forces and carrying out arrests and added that he hopes that Abu Mazen continues his efforts.

UN Secy.-Gen. Annan said that he has instructed UN envoy Terje Larsen to visit Syria and Lebanon in order to demand a complete Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution #1559 and added that this must be done according to a defined timetable.

Prime Minister Sharon told his guest that Israel was disappointed that there were no clear statements at the London conference regarding the war on terrorism and the need to dismantle its infrastructures. The Prime Minister also said that while there has been an improvement on the incitement issue in the media, the Palestinian education system continues to poison students against Israel, and that this constituted an obstacle to peace.

Regarding the outposts, Prime Minister Sharon said that Israel would evacuate unauthorized outposts that were built since March 2001, as it has committed to do under the Roadmap. The Prime Minister said that while this was difficult today due to the preparations for disengagement, Israel would evacuate them in accordance with its previous commitments.

The two men also discussed the issues of Syria, Hizbullah and Iranian involvement in Lebanon. Prime Minister Sharon noted that Israel supports the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution #1559.

Prime Minister Sharon invited UN Secy.-Gen. Annan to join him on the “March of the Living” in Poland in May.