Jerusalem, September 17, 2003

FM Shalom meets with Norwegian FM Jan Petersen
(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom met with his Norwegian counterpart Jan Petersen today in Tel Aviv. The two ministers discussed bilateral relations, the war on terror and the Middle East peace process.

Shalom thanked his counterpart for the historic role that Norway has played in the quest for peace, and for his personal, continued willingness to contribute to peace and security in Israel.

"Unfortunately, the terrorist attacks of recent weeks have proven that there can be no peace while terrorist organizations maintain their capacity to destroy," Minister Shalom said.

Shalom emphasized that Israel seeks to return to negotiations, but the Palestinian leadership must first take the strategic and moral decision to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism. He also noted that Yasser Arafat is an obstacle to peace and that as long as Arafat remains involved; he will undermine attempts by moderate leaders to pursue true reconciliation with Israel.

Shalom said, "There is broad consensus in the international community that Arafat is part of the problem. For the sake of the peace process, we must all draw the necessary conclusions. Despite all his promises, Arafat has failed for over 10 years to end violence and terrorism. This is a commitment he made for the first time in a 1993 letter to then Norwegian Foreign Minister Johan Jorgen Holst."

In light of Norway’s historic commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, Minister Shalom asked Minister Petersen to use all his influence to bring the Palestinian Authority to finally live up to its commitments under the Roadmap so that a better future for the region can be created.