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Israel: spokesperson for the Prime Minister criticises an Australian parliamentary delegation report that says the Israeli Government is responsible for the present deadlock in the peace process.

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PETER CAVE:   Just weeks before its Prime Minister is due to arrive in Australia, Israel has lashed out at the authors of an Australian parliamentary report that says the Netanyahu government is responsible for the present deadlock in the peace process. Mr Netanyahu’s spokesman, David Bar-Illan, says the report is a discredited, ignorant piece of Palestinian propaganda, written out of pique because Mr Netanyahu was too busy to meet the visiting Australians led by the Speaker, Ian Sinclair.


DAVID BAR-ILLAN:   Having read the report, at least about Israel, I can only say that it sounds to me like the delegation was trying to compete with The Arabian Nights .  There’s hardly a sentence there in which the facts are accurate and I’m very disappointed that anyone could come to this country and write what looks and reads like PLO propaganda tract and call it a report.


REPORTER: This is a completely discredited document, as far as you’re concerned?


DAVID BAR-ILLAN:   As far as I’m concerned, yes.  From a purely factual point of view to read the brief history of the conflict of Israel in this report is to read, as I said, a propaganda tract.  It has absolutely no relation to the facts.  And when I also read in it something recommending to the people of Israel to understand that it is their government that is standing in the way of a peace agreement, it is not only patronising, but an outright and a rather outrageous interference in domestic affairs of Israel.  I doubt very much whether any Australian would welcome this kind of a sentence from a visiting parliamentary delegation in Australia.  But the fact is that the whole report does not mention one word the continuous 100-year-old aggression that we’ve been subjected to here that….


REPORTER:   Well, in fact they actually do say that they came here predisposed to Israel’s position precisely because of that history of aggression and yet in their conversations with people here, which were your officials and obviously opposition people, they found that predisposition impossible to maintain.


DAVID BAR-ILLAN:   Well, I guess perhaps they were offended by the fact that Mr Arafat did see them;  the head of the opposition or the former head of the opposition, Mr Peres, saw them, and the Prime Minister, Mr Netanyahu, could not see them. 


REPORTER: So this is just a fit of pique, is it?


DAVID BAR-ILLAN:   The pique felt is palpable in the context … in the text itself, but as you know Mr Netanyahu is a very busy man.


REPORTER:   Why do you think that these people who’ve come predisposed to Israel, talked to your experts, and walked away with this conclusion?  How could that have happened?


DAVID BAR-ILLAN:   I think that you’d better direct that question to them, but….


REPORTER: Well, it seems that they didn’t find your people convincing.


DAVID BAR-ILLAN:   Well, perhaps they didn’t talk to the right people.  Perhaps we were remiss in not having the right people talk to them, but obviously this kind of propagandist writing does not belong in relations between parliamentary delegations which they confirm themselves seriously in another country.


PETER CAVE:   Mr Netanyahu’s spokesman, David Bar-Illan.