(Communicated by the Foreign Minister’s Media Advisor)

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Friday in Switzerland. He explained to the Secretary General that Israel objects strenuously to bringing the subject of the anti-terrorist fence before the International Court of Justice in the Hague. The fence, said the Foreign Minister, is being built to save the lives of Israeli civilians, and it is our moral duty to protect civilian lives. He added that building a fence is reversible, whereas loss of life is not. Israel has moved fences three times in the past.

The Secretary General told Mr. Shalom that the UN will not participate in the Hague deliberations.

Another subject that came up was the possibility of renewing negotiations with Syria. Mr. Shalom reiterated that any Arab leader who stretches out his hand in peace will find Israel a willing and serious partner. The Foreign Minister also expressed regret that President Assad declined President Katsav’s invitation, and added that Israel will nonetheless continue to test his sincerity.