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Monday, November 21, 2005

WSIS Tunisia: Guess Who's Coming For Dinner?

Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom, just back from a groundbreaking visit to Tunisia, said Sunday that dialogue with Israel is the key for Arab states wanting to help the Palestinians.

Shalom said that the fact he was able to land in Tunis on an Israeli aircraft at the head of an official Israeli delegation and sit down to dinner with the heads of state of Tunisia, Lebanon, Algeria and Sudan and the prime ministers of Bahrein and Qatar was itself a sign that Israel's pariah status in the Arab and Muslim world is waning.

"You ask yourself, 'Is this really happening?"' Shalom said, adding that in the past a high-level Israeli presence at an international gathering would have prompted a walkout by Arab leaders. "For them to sit with me and eat dinner; I think we've made tremendous progress."

Shalom, who was born in Tunisia but moved with his family to Israel as a child, led the Israeli delegation to the U.N.'s World Summit on the Information Society in the Tunisian capital.

"I told them one thing, 'If you want to help the Palestinians, there's only one way. Not by declarations, not by statements, only if you have good relations with Israel,"' Shalom said Sunday.

Source: Israel Insider

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