PM Olmert emphasized that he views negotiations with the Palestinians as the key to progress in the region.

 PM Olmert meets with French FM Douste-Blazy


Photo: GPO

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met this afternoon (Wednesday), 17 May 2006, with French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy and thanked him for the fireworks display that he sponsored in Tel Aviv last night.

French Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy said that since former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s July 2005 visit to France, there has been a great improvement in bilateral relations and added that France stands beside the Israeli government. Prime Minister Olmert agreed that bilateral relations have improved since former Prime Minister Sharon’s visit and that the two countries are much closer. He added that intends to continue and to further advance Israel’s relations with Europe.

Prime Minister Olmert emphasized that he views negotiations with the Palestinians as the key to progress in the region. Any other development is not as good since it is not by agreement: "We will do our utmost so that there will be negotiations. It is important to Israel that France understands that the condition for this is acceptance of the Quartet’s principles and on this we will not compromise. I am committed to negotiations with the Palestinians and recognize and respect Abu Mazen’s position but it is important to remember that he represents the Palestinian Authority (PA) and is not a private individual. As long as the PA is – in practice – controlled by Hamas, we will find it difficult to advance diplomatic negotiations. Regarding the humanitarian issue, we will do our utmost to ease conditions for Palestinian civilians. If an economic mechanism is established that is designed for humanitarian needs and not for paying salaries, Israel will be able to support it. We favor providing alternatives to money, i.e. medicines and food, or to see medicines purchased with money and transferred to hospitals. Medicines do not shoot at Israeli citizens. We will not transfer funds for salaries."

Prime Minister added that Israel very much appreciates the struggle of French President Jacques Chirac and that of the French Government against anti-Semitism.

French Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy said that there has been a great improvement on the issue of anti-Semitism due to the new laws that the current French Government has passed.

French Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy said that France would not meet with any Hamas leaders: "We will not give them entry visas and will also press other countries on this issue. Hamas needs to change; the international position will not change and does not need to change. I will not meet with them. If the Palestinian population does not receive assistance it will become more and more extreme. The situation must not deteriorate and it is important that there be mutual trust between you and Abu Mazen. We would be very pleased if there would be such a meeting. Before a unilateral solution is decided upon, it is important to exhaust the negotiations with Abu Mazen."

Prime Minister Olmert said that he is prepared to meet with Abu Mazen but said that the latter must fight terrorism emanating from the PA. He also needs to work and uphold the commitments that the Palestinians have accepted upon themselves in the framework of the Roadmap.

On the Iranian issue, French Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy noted that he had attended the Quartet meeting in New York and added that it was clear that there had to be a unified and determined message; to this end, he sat with the Russians for hours: "It is clear that the Iranians must stop all of their activities, including the enrichment of uranium for civilian purposes."