Statement by Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom following meeting with
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher

Jerusalem, December 22, 2003

 Statement by FM Silvan Shalom following meeting with Egyptian FM Ahmed Maher-Dec 22- 2003

©Israel Hadari 

 Statement by FM Silvan Shalom following meeting with Egyptian FM Ahmed Maher-Dec 22- 2003

FM Silvan Shalom meets with Egyptian FM Ahmed Maher in Jerusalem
(Dec 22, 2003)

I would like to welcome my colleague Foreign Minister Maher to Jerusalem this morning. It is my pleasure to host you, following my December 10th meeting with President Mubarak. On behalf of the Israeli Government and people, we are encouraged by your visit.

Peace between Egypt and Israel is a strategic asset to both of our countries. Twenty-five years of peaceful relations serve as an example of possibility and opportunity for the entire region.

The people of Israel are a people of peace. Since our establishment, we have extended our hand in peace to all of our neighbors. We are determined, persistent and patient, and will work tirelessly to secure a better future for all peoples of the region.

Israel remains firmly committed to reaching peace and security with the Palestinians through full implementation of the Road Map. We are ready to renew dialogue with the Palestinian Authority immediately.

I would like to thank the Egyptian government for the constructive role that it has played vis-a-vis the Palestinians. Israel of course welcomes any reduction in violence, but we hope Egypt will use its influence to push for more permanent steps like the dismantling of terrorist infrastructure and implementation of Palestinian commitments. Egypt, with its unique leadership role, can also serve as a bridge to help Israel reach peace and security with the Arab world.

I hope that Syria will conduct direct negotiations with Israel one day, with no pre-conditions, paving the way for a comprehensive Middle East peace.

Egypt can further increase its role in the peace process by strengthening bilateral ties with Israel. I believe that immediate steps can be taken to help create a positive atmosphere and to promote understanding between our two peoples.

Mr. Minister, thank you for coming. You are the first Egyptian official to visit Israel in more than two years. We hope that we will see you, as well as other officials, here much more often. Countries with normal relations can increase productivity through their two respective ambassadors to the mutual benefit of their peoples. Renewing such ties would surely produce significant results.

We also need to work together to create a culture of peace and security in the region through education to tolerance and understanding and not hatred and incitement. We must teach our children the values and benefits of peace and cooperation. The Israeli people stand united in our commitment to reaching these goals. Furthermore, we all hope that Egypt will use its influence to promote these policies and ideals in international forums, like the United Nations.

Minister Maher, I am confident that your visit today represents a warming in our relations. We have an opportunity to increase ties through business to business contacts and cooperation in the fields of natural resources, agriculture and tourism. The people of Israel, and I personally, look forward to working with you on all of these issues.