PM Olmert to President Mubarak: "You are a true partner for peace"
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Following are Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s remarks at his joint press conference with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Sunday evening, 4 June 2006:
"I thank you Mr. President for your invitation to meet with me at Sharm e-Sheikh and for the warm reception and hospitality that you have provided for myself and my delegation.
On behalf of the State of Israel, I would like to express my deepest regret over the incident that occurred over the weekend in which two Egyptian security personnel were killed. We have initiated a joint committee to investigate the incident; we will consider its findings. Similarly, we have instructed our security and intelligence forces to cooperate on the issue and to make every effort to prevent a recurrence of such incidents in the future.
We held a fruitful discussion on the main issues on the agenda, mainly ways to advance negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
I see you, Mr. President, as a true partner in the effort to bring peace to our region. I intend to closely consult and work with you in order to advance the peace process. Your contribution is as vital as it was during the successful implementation of the Disengagement Plan. I am very pleased by the cooperation between our countries in the struggle against global terrorism – a plague that strikes at innocent civilians. We have agreed to enhance cooperation and coordination between us and between our countries on this issue.
Mr. President, I welcome your commitment to advancing and expanding bilateral relations. As Industry, Trade and Employment Minister, I was fortunate enough to sign our bilateral QIZ agreement and we discussed this today; I have already instructed both my successor as Industry, Trade and Employment Minister and the relevant officials to expand the bilateral QIZ agreement.
Israel is committed to the Roadmap and to advancing the bilateral channel with Mahmoud Abbas, the elected Chairman of the PA. My aspiration is to exhaust all avenues in order to advance this channel. I intend to meet with PA Chairman Abbas in order to encourage the process that will enable us to achieve progress in accordance with the Roadmap. I discussed this of course with President Mubarak, who is the most experienced statesman in our region and is certainly the most experienced in contacts that could lead to peace agreements. I very much hope that the Palestinian partners will utilize this opportunity to implement all of their commitments in order to make it possible to move forward in accordance with the Roadmap.
Of course, Israel expects that the Palestinian government will fully implement the demands of the Quartet and the international community and thus make it possible to hold negotiations on the basis of the Roadmap. We have not hidden our view that if this does not occur and that if we reach the conclusion that it will not occur, we will have no alternative but to look for other ways in order to move the situation in the Middle East and in order to prevent stalemate from taking over the reality in the Middle East.
We also discussed the humanitarian situation in the PA areas and we will take all measures in order to prevent a humanitarian crisis. This is also the reason that we decided to allocate NIS 50 million for medical supplies for the Palestinian population; we are working in cooperation with the international organizations that are active in Gaza in order to meet the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population.
We also appreciate the humanitarian assistance that Egypt is providing to the Palestinians, which includes many trucks laden with food and medicines and I informed the President that I have instructed our people on the ground to remove any bureaucratic obstacles that might prevent Egypt from delivering the assistance that it is providing to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
And lastly, permit me to take this opportunity to add something personal that is not in the written statement. Mr. President, this was a very moving personal experience for me to sit with you now for approximately 1.5 hours, to hold talks and to listen to one of the most experienced and important leaders that I have had the opportunity of meeting with.
Bilateral relations between Israel and Egypt are very fundamental and very important to our worldview and to the network of relations that we want to build in the region, and the leadership of Hosni Mubarak is an important key to the success of this process.
I very much thank you Mr. President and I hope that we will be able to continue both our discussions and bilateral relations in this spirit and in the atmosphere that has prevailed at our meeting today at Sharm e-Sheikh.