(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met this morning (Tuesday), 12 July 2005, with President Moshe Katsav, at the latter’s Residence in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Sharon said that he had come to consult with President Katsav on several issues on the agenda. The two men held a press conference after their meeting.

Regarding the increasing extremism of those who oppose the disengagement and the violations of public order, Prime Minister Sharon said: “We view the acts as very grave; yesterday’s incident was very serious but the security services and the police are taking all necessary steps. Dozens of people are already sitting in prison for their actions. We will not allow the disruption of daily life and I am certain that the legal establishment will act in such a manner so as not to enable the running wild to continue.”

Regarding the Philadelphi corridor, Prime Minister Sharon said: “We ascribe great importance to the issue of the smuggling of war materiel from Sinai into the Gaza Strip. This is a serious security problem and we are taking all necessary steps. The deployment of forces will be along a 14-kilometer stretch and has to do with replacing police forces with more effective forces, which will improve our situation and is certainly likely to lead to a decrease in smuggling.” The Prime Minister added that there is no impediment to holding a Knesset discussion on the deployment of forces along the Philadelphi corridor and that it is important there be agreement about the deployment of Egyptian forces.

Prime Minister Sharon announced today that after the agreement with Egypt regarding the replacement of Egyptian police forces by Egyptian border guards in order to prevent arms smuggling in the area of the Philadelphi corridor is initialed, it will be submitted to the Cabinet for discussion and a decision, following which it will be submitted to the Knesset for approval. The Prime Minister said that he would do this even though Attorney-General Meni Mazuz has determined no substantive change in the peace treaty with Egypt is involved and that, therefore, the aforementioned agreement need not be submitted for Knesset approval.

Prime Minister Sharon emphasized that on the issues of security for the state and its citizens, he relies on the IDF and the security establishment: “There is only one body that I rely on and that is the IDF, and the message has been passed on to the political leaders. Only one body is responsible for the security of the state and its citizens and that is the State of Israel, and there will be no concessions in this area.  It is the exclusive responsibility of the State of Israel and no other body will be allowed to interfere.”

Regarding the day after the Disengagement Plan, Prime Minister Sharon said: “I want to make it clear that there will be no other disengagement, and that the Disengagement Plan does not have a second stage. The Roadmap is the stage after the Disengagement Plan and it must be recalled that the transition to the Roadmap will take place only when there is complete quiet – the cessation of terrorism, incitement and violence, the implementation of reforms in the Palestinian Authority and other steps.  If the Palestinians fulfill their commitments, it will be possible to begin discussions on the stages of the Roadmap. While the Roadmap doesn’t have an exact timetable, we cannot proceed from stage to stage except after the total completion of the preceding stage.”

Regarding security-intelligence cooperation with Europe, Prime Minister Sharon said: “Israel has relations with many countries around the world including in regard to cooperation in the intelligence field and in various issues related to terrorism, including global terrorism. I have decided, from time to time, to send intelligence and other officials to key leaders in order to update them beyond the regular updates so that there might be direct contact between the services.”

Regarding the date for closing the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Sharon said: “The decision to bar entry to the Gaza Strip is an issue that the Cabinet will discuss with the security establishment today after the latter has presented its position.”