FM Silvan Shalom met in New York with Tunisian FM Habib Ben Yahia to discuss a closening of relations, with a view to restoring relations broken off four years ago.

 FM Shalom meets with Tunisian FM Ben Yahia


FM Shalom meets with Tunisian FM Ben Yahia. (GPO/Shahar Azran)

(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Spokesman)

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met Monday in New York with Tunisian Foreign Minister Habib Ben Yahia at the home of Tunisia’s UN ambassador. They discussed a closening of relations, with a view to restoring relations that were broken off with the outbreak of the intifada in the fall of 2000. This was their third meeting over the past year and lasted for some 90 minutes.

Proposals were raised on various bilateral issues, including the establishment of a joint committee. The Tunisian foreign minister said his country is interested in encouraging Israeli tourism to Jerba. A proposal was raised regarding the possibility of an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue under Tunisian sponsorship.

Minister Ben Yahia expressed interest in Israel’s intentions regarding Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Minister Shalom pointed out that Israel does not intend to harm Arafat, but that the cabinet decision regarding his expulsion stands. Shalom added that Arafat continues to act to subvert peace and said he is sure that after Arafat is expelled a moderate Palestinian leadership will emerge with which Israel can conduct a dialogue.

Following this meeting, Minister Shalom met with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, including its chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein, and attended a conference of the Seeds of Peace along with James Bennet and the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. Minister Shalom was then to meet with Oman Foreign Minister Youssef bin Alawi.