Shalom. Salam. These were not only peace greetings, but—as actor
Richard Geer, who was present at the beginning of the meeting, pointed
out—Shalom and Salam were the last and first names of the Israeli and
Palestinian ministers who met during the World Economic Forum in Davos,
Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported Sunday, Jan. 30, that while they
were in Davos, Israel's
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Palestinian
Authority Finance Minister Salam Fayad exchanged more than ceremonial
greetings. The two ministers also discussed some of the substantive
questions in the peace-making process and agreed to meet with each other
Shalom informed Fayad that "Israel is interested in helping to improve
Palestinian daily life," according to the Ministry's statement.
"To this end, Israel plans to build 24 civilian crossings between the PA
territory and Israel, and another five goods crossings, the largest of which
will be at the Erez checkpoint. The cost of this construction will be
hundreds of millions of dollars."
Israel's Foreign Minister also said besides progress on the diplomatic front,
there needs to be positive economic developments for the Palestinians.
"Cessation of terror would create a positive atmosphere that would benefit
both sides and would allow Israel to decrease the number of roadblocks and ease
Palestinian movement.," Shalom said.
Shalom said he told Fayad and others attending the conference, including U.S.
Assistant Secretary of State Bob Zoellick, that the relaxation of tensions in
the Middle East provides a "very good opportunity for stopping terrorism
and making progress in the diplomatic process.
"However, past mistakes must not be repeated, and a temporary cease fire
that leaves terrorism on the sidelines like a bomb waiting to explode is not an
acceptable solution," Shalom was quoted as saying. "Abu Mazen must
dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, collect the illegal weapons in the PA,
arrest wanted terrorists, destroy explosive laboratories, and put a stop to
incitement to violence.
"Israel is not willing to return to a situation in which attacks and
funerals take place during the day and peace talks are held at night."
During the discussion, Shalom was asked about the withdrawal of Israeli
settlements in Gaza, to which he replied that this "is not a simple task,
considering that the population is third-generation and has lived there for 35