(Communicated by the President’s Spokeswoman)

President Moshe Katsav this morning (Wednesday), 21 July 2004, accepted the credentials of incoming Japanese Ambassador Yokota Jun, and told him the following: “Last night, I know that Japan voted against Israel in the UN General Assembly regarding the security fence.  I believe that this was a mistake because the security fence is helping to prevent bloodshed and is aiding moderate Palestinian leaders.”  The President said that Israel has taken many steps toward the Palestinians since the Oslo accords while the Palestinians, “haven’t taken even one step towards Israel,” since then.

President Katsav called on Japan to continue its economic assistance to the Palestinians but to condition diplomatic assistance on practical and concrete actions to prevent terrorism.

President Katsav expressed the hope that bilateral diplomatic and economic relations with Japan would strengthen and called on Ambassador Jun to encourage visits by high-ranking Japanese officials and politicians to Israel.  The President said that he would welcome visits by Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.