FM Silvan Shalom Launches Foreign Ministry Website in Arabic

Jerusalem, January 12, 2004

It is a pleasure for me to launch the Foreign Ministry’s new website in Arabic: alTawasul, which means connection or interaction –

The Foreign Ministry has constructed this Internet site as an additional means to build links with the Arab world, and to strengthen our dialogue with the diverse sectors in Arab countries.

The website we are about to present is the result of ongoing work carried out over the last two years by the staff of my Ministry and a team of talented and dedicated workers at the Israeli Embassy in Amman. I would like to thank Amir Weisbrod, the Spokesman of the Israeli Embassy in Amman, who managed the project and worked with great devotion and professionalism. The website will be maintained by the Arabic Language Information and Media Department of the Ministry’s Information and Public Affairs Division.

When I assumed my position as Minister of Foreign Affairs, I made clear that enhancing and consolidating ties between the State of Israel and the Arab world would be at the forefront of my agenda. In the Foreign Ministry, we are working on many fronts to increase Israel’s exposure in the Arab world. Providing information where it is lacking regarding the State of Israel, Israeli society, the history of the Jewish people and Zionism is the first step and an essential means to promoting dialogue and understanding.

Although we are living in the information age, there is a lack of basic information about Israel in the Arab world. Following talks that I have conducted with Arab leaders, I have learned that there exists a great thirst for knowledge about Israel and its society – both democratic and complex. In the same vein, we are interested in including op-ed articles on the website by representatives in the Arab world so that we can hear the views of our neighbors.

I believe that by providing information to our neighbors on an ongoing and long-term basis, and through learning about developments in the Arab world, we will be able to enhance the readiness for dialogue, which is the desired alternative to conflict and confrontation. This website is an important vehicle in the process, and I trust that it will be of assistance to you as journalists in the course of your work, and to all those who believe that the time has come to spread a message of peace. I am confident that the exchange of information that will result from this website will benefit the people of Israel and the peoples of Arab countries.