Jerusalem, November 26, 2003

FM Shalom Presents Positive Agenda to Donor Countries
(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Bureau)

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom met with representatives of the donor countries today. The U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer, and Ambassadors of the EU, Norway and Japan participated. Representatives of the World Bank and the IMF were also in attendance.

The forum of donor countries was established in 1995 by 40 countries that committed themselves to contribute 8 billion dollars to Palestinian Authority infrastructure and institutions.

Today’s meeting was held in preparation for the upcoming senior meeting, slated to take place on December 10 in Rome under the auspices of the EU President Franco Frattini. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom will represent Israel. The Palestinians are expected to be represented by Nabil Shaath and Salim Fayyad. The foreign ministers of Norway and Italy will also attend.

Participants today presented to Foreign Minister Shalom several problems that arise on a daily basis including the passage of people and goods and the lack of a single address to turn to on the Israeli side.

FM Shalom committed himself to establishing an inter-agency forum whose mandate will cover all such issues. "We must open a new channel to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people," Shalom said. "I hope that the renewal of the donor country meetings will help to move things forward."

Additionally, FM Shalom presented the positive agenda for the Palestinians on which he has been working. The positive agenda includes both short and long term projects in coordination with the Palestinian Authority and the donor countries in the areas of business, tourism, agriculture and joint industrial zones.

FM Shalom emphasized that Israel is coming to the table with good will and with a series of concrete steps. "We hope that the Palestinian Authority takes the strategic decision to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism," Shalom said.