(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon this evening (Wednesday), 17 August 2005, received a letter from Moroccan King Mohammed VI in which the latter wrote:

“At the hour in which you are implementing your important and positive decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, I would like to commend you for your prudence, long-range view and genuine commitment to reach – via negotiations – a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East.This year of peace depends on the Palestinians being given the opportunity to establish an independent state, thus assuring the legitimate right of the State of Israel and all countries in the region to live side by side in peace and security.

I salute your government for its determination to overcome all domestic obstacles and difficulties. I would also like to reiterate to you Morocco’s sincere desire to remain actively involved – both on an Arab-Islamic level and together with the international community – in efforts to put an end to the Israeli-Arab conflict and to advance the option of peace. Peace is not just an obligation, it is also the correct way to realize the aspirations of the new generations so that they might dedicate their energies to fruitful cooperation and the building of a promising future by strengthening peace, security, stability, reconstruction, progress, prosperity, co-existence and agreement.

I join all those peace-seeking forces in the world and would like to emphasize that in keeping with my country’s long-standing traditions, I, as King of Morocco and Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee, will be at the forefront of those who support a fair and egalitarian solution. I hope that the international community will back this decision with brave measures and initiatives, according to the Roadmap and in keeping with international law. I also hope for genuine and sincere cooperation and coordination between Israel and the Palestinian leadership in order to assist the Palestinian Authority in this difficult mission and to assure the success of the efforts to work together in order to advance the peace process. Your courageous decision serves as a strong incentive to the taking of the appropriate and fair measures to create a new dynamic that will rekindle hope and bring security to the Children of Abraham.”

PM Sharon also received a letter from South African President Thabo Mbeki who wrote:

“I write to express our sincere best wishes to you for the success of the historic process the Government and people of the State of Israel have started to close down the Jewish settlements in Gaza.

We are acutely conscious of and sensitive to the pain that will have to be borne by the Israeli families to which Gaza had become home. We are certain that the Israeli Government and people will do everything possible to minimise the impact of the trauma that attends all operations that result in the sudden resettlement of people, everywhere in the world.

However, we are also fully cognisant of the absolute imperative to carry out the Gaza pullout, in the interest of peace and stability in Israel, Palestine, the Middle East and the world. We trust that, in time, even those who will lose their homes in Gaza will come to realize that their sacrifice serves both their own interests and the interests of the entire Middle East region and the rest of humanity.

Their sacrifice, painful as it undoubtedly is, opens the way to the implementation of the critically important Israel-Palestine Road Map to peace, cooperation and friendship.  It must surely strike a mighty blow for an end to the violence that has claimed too many Israeli and Palestinian lives.

We salute your courage and assure you of our support as you dismantle the Jewish settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, and thus make an unprecedented contribution towards the just solution of the protracted and deadly Israel-Palestine conflict.

Honourable Prime Minister, please accept the assurance of our highest consideration.”