Jerusalem, January 12, 2004

Launching of MFA Arab-Language Website
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will launch its new, Arab-language website in a festive ceremony scheduled for Monday, 12 January 2004, in the presence of Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. The ceremony will take place at 11:30 a.m. in the Avriel Hall, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On the occasion of the launching of the new website, Mr. Shalom granted a special interview in which he discussed current subjects relating to Israel’s relations with the Arab world.

The name of the site is Altawasul (meaning connection, interaction). The address of the new site is: www.altawasul.net. The site provides information about Israel, including official announcements, reviews in the fields of academia, the economy, culture, interfaith dialogue, explanations about state institutions and government, selected opinion articles from newspapers, and information about economic and other events occurring in Israel. The site is intended to increase knowledge about Israel and to provide a platform for dialogue with the Arab world; it will be open to articles and reactions. In this context, the Israeli dailies Maariv and Yediot Aharonot both agreed to provide articles for the website.

The website is being launched as part of the Ministry’s efforts to increasingly expose different audiences in the Arab world to information about Israel, supplementing the sparseness of material issuing from Israel in Arabic and addressing Israel’s neighbors in their own language.

The Israeli Embassy in Amman has been working on the new website for the last two years, under the supervision of the spokesperson, Mr. Amir Weisbrod. The site will be managed from the Foreign Ministry by the Arab Media and Public Affairs Department.