Jerusalem, December 22, 2003

President Katsav meets Egyptian FM Ahmed Maher
(Communicated by the President’s Spokesman)

President Moshe Katsav met this afternoon (Monday), December 22, 2003, at his Jerusalem Residence, with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher.

President Katsav raised the issue of Azzam Azzam and noted that "he is an innocent Israeli citizen."

President Katsav made it clear to his guest that the security fence was for security purposes and had no political or diplomatic significance. He said that it is succeeding in lowering the number of terrorist attacks and added that it would thus aid the Palestinian leadership. The President said that the main obstacle in Israeli-Palestinian relations is the continuation of terror, noting, "It cannot be that the Palestinian Authority has several organizations, each of which makes decisions on its own. If the terror stops, we will be able to resume negotiations immediately and a good atmosphere will be created. I believe that the gaps are bridgeable." The President thanked Egypt for its efforts to achieve a ceasefire.

President Katsav invited Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to make an official visit to Israel and said that "Egypt must do more to increase meetings. Such meetings can clear up disagreements and enhance bilateral relations between neighbors."