The foreign minister pointed out the dangers of Hamas becoming involved in the democratic process within the Palestinian Authority.

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met in Tel Aviv with the Japanese emissary to the Middle East, Special Ambassador Tatsuo Arima, on September 26, 2005. Minister Shalom greeted the Japanese envoy and stressed how welcome any Japanese representative is in Israel. Shalom asked Arima to convey his special congratulations to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on his impressive victory in the recent elections.

Ambassador Arima expressed the appreciation of his government for the steps taken by the government of Israel and for the leadership of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. On other occasions Japan has praised Israel for implementing the Disengagement Plan, and Japan is working intensively to ensure fair treatment for Israel in various international bodies, in an effort to increase the chances for peace.

Minister Shalom lauded the flourishing of bilateral relations and Japan’s positive contribution toward improving the atmosphere in the Middle East. The improvement in bilateral relations has been expressed in various ways, including improved trade figures and a steady increase in the number of Japanese tourists visiting Israel, following the lowering of the alert level to its citizens by the Japanese government.

Shalom described the disengagement as a difficult step, but one that was completed responsibly and without mishap. He praised Japan’s ongoing aid to the Palestinians over the years and efforts to transform the Palestinians into reliable and stable partners by means of it. The minister made it clear that Israel is aware of Japan’s efforts to maintain the present level of aid, and asked Ambassador Arima to ensure that Tokyo make every effort to ascertain that these funds are used properly for the benefit of the Palestinian residents.

The foreign minister also pointed out the dangers of Hamas becoming involved in the democratic process within the Palestinian Authority, since it is a terrorist organization that utterly negates Isael’s right to exist. He also spoke of the common interest shared by Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the international community, including Japan, in putting a stop to this organization.

At the end of their meeting, Minister Shalom asked Ambassador Arima to convey his invitation to Prime Minister Koizumi to visit Israel.