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8 June 2005
TRAW IN ISRAEL: JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE WITH SILVAN SHALOM
EDITED TRANSCRIPT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE BETWEEN JACK STRAW AND SILVAN SHALOM, IN ISRAEL, ON WEDNESDAY 8 JUNE
Unfortunately the Hamas once again today fired missiles toward Israel. Hamas is trying very hard to undermine our efforts to move toward peace with the Palestinian authority. The Hamas is trying to undermine Abu Mazen's regime as well. We believe that the Hamas should be left in the terrorist list as it was decided two years ago in the European Union. We are trying very hard to move toward peace. We are trying to do everything we can in order to bring better future to our peoples and I am sure that Prime Minister Blair, as well as Foreign Secretary Straw, will do everything they can in order to move the both sides toward better understanding, toward let's say better situation here in the Middle East. We are trying very hard to develop our relations with the European Union as well and I'm sure that we will focus all those issues during our meeting.
Thank you very much indeed, Silvan. Thank you very much for your welcome and I'm delighted to be here with my friend, Silvan Shalom, here in Israel. I'm looking forward very much to discussions with you Silvan, and with your Prime Minister, with the Vice Prime Minister, with Shimon Peres and others and to taking full account of everything that you say to me.
As you indicate, the United Kingdom takes over the European Union Presidency in just three weeks time on 1st July. We have always supported Israel's not only right to exist but Israel's right to prosperity in safety and security for its peoples and with decent and sensible relations with her neighbours, who are also committed to living in peace and security alongside Israel.
We applaud the courage shown by Prime Minister Sharon and the whole of your government, and courage it is, in working for disengagement from Gaza as we see as a key step towards what we all want to see, which is those two states of Palestine and Israel being able to live side by side in peace and security. And I look forward - I know that this has been controversial here - to discussing with you the steps that your government is courageously taking to secure the beginning of that disengagement on 15th August.
On the issue of Hamas, let me say this, I was the British Home Secretary who first introduced legislation enabling me to proscribe to ban international terrorist organisations and to then place Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hizbollah on the list of banned organisations. We were also in the lead in seeking sanctions within the European Union and we are ready wherever the evidence is to seek a strengthening of the sanctions against the Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbollah and any other organisation where that is justified, both domestically and within the European Union and of course the United Nations as well.
The facts of these rocket attacks today, in which I understand a mother and child are still in deep shock and to acknowledge Israeli citizens have been killed, illustrates the wanton, random terror which the Hamas and other similar organisations are ready to practise to undermine peace and security here in Israel and also to undermine the democratically elected President and his government within the Palestinian authority. And our policy is clear - we will have no dealings with the leadership of Hamas or other such organisations unless and until they wholly renounce violence and they renounce their charter calling for the destruction of the state of Israel. I look forward very much to our discussions.
I would like maybe to add one more thing. I would like to mention that Foreign Secretary Straw and the government of Great Britain were those who were leading the initiative of the European Union to put the Hamas in the terrorist list. We were very encouraged then and we are very encouraged now by your position to do the same with the Hizbollah. For that I would like to thank you because we are very much in favour of this position to empower the moderates and to weaken the extremists. Thank you.
Thank you very much.