"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
The minister visited the Palestinian Territories and Israel while he was in Bethlehem for the private investors’ conference in the Palestinian Territories which was held there from May 21-23.
In Bethlehem, the minister intended to encourage potential Palestinian private investors and recalled the overriding need to improve the situation on the ground, especially in terms of freedom of movement.
In the Palestinian territories, the minister had talks with Mahmoud Abbas, Salam Fayyad and Abou Ala. He made a number of visits there: in Bethlehem to evaluate the conditions for the development of economic activities, and in Hebron where he met with the mayor of the city and representatives of the international presence (TIPH).
In Israel, he was received on May 22 by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He had talks with his counterpart, Tzipi Livni, and with Deputy Prime Minister Haim Ramon and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The minister also dined with several members of the Knesset who are promoting the “evacuation-compensation” bill and emphasized the importance of an Israeli freeze on settlement activity.
The visit, which also comes in the context of preparations for the French presidency of the European Union, gave the minister an opportunity to encourage the two parties to intensify their negotiations in order to arrive at the establishment of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel before the end of 2008.