(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met this afternoon (Thursday), 17 February 2005, with senior US security coordinator and emissary of US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Lt.-Gen. William Ward.
Prime Minister Sharon welcomed Lt.-Gen. Ward and wished him success in his mission. The Prime Minister noted that we see the importance of his mission to the region; this message was passed on to US Secy. of State Rice when she updated the Prime Minister on Lt.-Gen. Ward’s appointment.
Prime Minister Sharon said that the security issue is the main issue that must be dealt with at the current time since it is the key to progress on the other components of the process. Therefore, promoting security reforms in the Palestinian Authority (PA), building efficient Palestinian security services and the Palestinians’ fight against terrorism are the main issues that must be focused on.
Prime Minister Sharon said that it was important that Lt.-Gen. Ward coordinate the international community’s overall security activity, including the supervision of the equipment it intends to dispatch. The Prime Minister said that the security issue was very sensitive and that it was important to avoid unsupervised initiatives by international elements.
Prime Minister Sharon emphasized that Israel will not make any allowances for the Palestinians in these areas and in their full implementation. In order to implement the security reforms, it is very important that reforms in other areas, such as the economy and the legal system, be implemented as well.
Lt.-Gen. Ward said that before visiting Israel, he met with US President George Bush and senior US administration officials, who told him that in the wake of the Sharm el-Sheikh summit a genuine opportunity has been created to move the process forward. Ward said that he intends to focus on the security issues while placing special emphasis on the PA security reforms in order to create services that will be both able and committed to fighting terrorism and its infrastructures.
Prime Minister Sharon asked to thank US President Bush both for his determination to fight terrorism and for acting on this determination by sending Lt.-Gen. Ward. Sharon reiterated that he would render such assistance to Lt.-Gen. Ward as may be necessary and that he is ready to meet with him at any time.