Speaking at the beginning of a meeting this morning (November 11) with Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, Gianfranco Fini, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reacted to the death of Yasser Arafat:

"Recent events are likely to constitute a turning point in Middle Eastern history.  Israel, which is a peace-seeking country, will – of course – continue with its efforts to reach a diplomatic settlement with the Palestinians without delay.  I hope that the new Palestinian leadership that will arise will understand that progress in relations and in  the resolution of problems depends – first and foremost – on the cessation of terrorism and their fighting terrorism.

I hope that this will indeed occur and that we will be able to move forward in our efforts to reach a diplomatic settlement."

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Army Radio: "Our region, after Arafat, has turned into a different region, and in my view, will be a better region. Arafat for years led the ideology that it is possible to achieve by the force of arms and the path of terror what might have been achieved by negotiation. This path of forty years of involvement in terrorism has yielded only victims, blood and destruction."