Jerusalem, 13 March 1995


(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met this morning (Monday), March 13, 1995, with British Prime Minister John Major.

During their meeting, Peres briefed Mr. Major on the peace process, and said: "The current government has 20 months until the elections, and we are determined to dedicate this time to advancing all channels of the peace process."

Peres also noted that we are in the midst of implementing the second phase of the agreement with the Palestinians, deepening and broadening peace with Jordan, and trying to open the door in negotiations with Syria. He emphasized that, just as there is no alternative to weapons in time of war, there is no alternative to economic development in time of peace; the Middle East needs funding and economic assistance in order for peace to be stable.

According to Peres, one of the ideas taking shape is that of joint Israeli- Palestinian industrial parks. About 7-8 of these parks are planned, and it is hoped that each participating country will undertake to build one of these parks, which will be named after it.

Prime Minister Major expressed great interest in the industrial parks, and said that he would favorably consider the creation of such a park by Britain.

Peres also raised the issue of a regional development bank, saying that the Middle East has been home to negative institutions until now; the bank would be the first positive institution common to all states of the region. He stressed that the World Bank does not lend funds for projects, but to states; accordingly, the Palestinians cannot avail themselves of its assistance. Israel, meanwhile, cannot receive such a loan because it is considered a developed country; Jordan cannot receive loans because it owed a great deal of debts.

Foreign Minister Peres added that we do not intend to repeat the mistakes of the European Bank. We want a bank with an administration which can solicit funds and offer guarantees to private regional investors. Peres added that he would be glad to see a regional economic confederation between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians and a political federation between Jordan and the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Major said that he would be glad to meet with Peres again tomorrow, in order to continue their discussion of relevant issues.