PERES MEETS WITH NORWEGIAN FOREIGN MINISTER
(Communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met today (Wednesday), June 14, 1995, for a protracted discussion with Norwegian Foreign Minister Bjorn Tore Godal and his deputy, Jan Englard. Norway heads the committee of countries contributing to the Palestinians, and most of the visit has been dedicated to the matter of aid to the Autonomy. Peres briefed his guests on the various aspects of the negotiations with the Palestinians. Regarding elections, Peres said that most related issues have been resolved; only two issues remain in dispute the participation of eastern Jerusalem residents in elections, and the number of council members to be elected. He expressed the hope that these issues will also be resolved before the conclusion of the negotiations.
Concerning the transfer of authority, Peres said that an agreement can be reached by the beginning of July; the details of the implementation can continue to be discussed afterward. Peres explained that the third component of the negotiations, which involves the re-deployment of IDF forces, is the most problematic element since it relates to the root of the security problem. At the same time, he said, we intend to accelerate the negotiations over the next two weeks, in order to make maximum progress possible.
Foreign Minister Godal said that, during his visit to Gaza yesterday, he sensed a substantial, positive change as compared to his previous visit about one year ago. The improvement, according to Godal, is apparent on the ground (for example, in the construction field) and in the general atmosphere. He noted that he is encouraged by the determination of both parties to make every effort toward reaching an agreement by the beginning of July. Regarding the issue of aid, Godal reported that about $77 million of the $136 million required to cover the Palestinian Authority’s 1995 deficit has been raised. He added that progress in the negotiations is important in this respect as well, since every step forward facilitates raising of additional funding.
Peres asked whether Saudi Arabia has yet fulfilled its donor commitments and, upon receiving a negative answer, expressed on his great displeasure over the fact that the Arab states which have been so generous with their protests, statements and condemnations have not even met their modest financial commitments to the Palestinians. Peres added that residential construction projects in Gaza should be encouraged because this involves both an effort to bear fruit within a relatively short period of time, and contributes to an improvement in the local standard of living. Peres also reported on progress in the industrial park program, and called on Norway to join Israel in a project to provide professional training in the field of electronics.