Minister Shalom Demands Immediate End to PA Incitement

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, meeting yesterday with outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, said there is a "glimmer of hope" following Arafat's death, but "there are no shortcuts."

, | updated: 11:01 AM

Shalom said that Israel would do everything it can to facilitate the upcoming PA elections, without compromising Israel's security needs. "We would like to see this new leadership moving to better understanding with Israel [and] towards peace with Israel," Shalom said, "but there are no shortcuts. We would like this new leadership to implement its commitments according to the Road Map, [namely], dismantle the infrastructure of terrorist organizations [and] put an end to terrorism, violence and incitement."

Minister Shalom noted specifically that the new PA leadership could show its intentions by immediately stopping incitement on radio, television, and in textbooks.

Powell said that he had had an "excellent conversation" with his colleague Minister Shalom focusing on "the opportunities that have been presented by the death of Chairman Arafat." Though Powell announced his resignation yesterday, he said he plans to visit Sharm el-Sheikh, Jerusalem and Ramallah next week.

Asked whether Arabs of eastern Jerusalem will be permitted to vote in the PA election - currently scheduled for Jan. 9, 2005 - Minister Shalom said he sees them voting the same way they did in 1996. He explained that they essentially voted via absentee ballots sent through the mail, and that the election itself was not held in Jerusalem. Shalom added that the final decision would be made by Prime Minister Sharon in the coming days.

Explaining that Israel would assist the PA in conducting the elections, Shalom said, "We would like them to have a free election for the first time... It might encourage some other countries in our region to ask for the same system of democracy... We have had enough being the only democracy in our region for almost 60 years. We would like others to join us."