The Fourth Conference for Confidence-Building between the Israelis and the Palestinians

October 23, 2008

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs convened the Fourth Conference for Confidence-Building between the Israelis and the Palestinians on the 22nd and 23rd of October, in Tokyo. The Conference was participated in by Mr. Meir Sheetrit, Minister of the Interior, as the chief delegate of Israel, and by Dr. Sa'eb Erekat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs of the PLO, as the chief delegate of the Palestinians. In addition to these representatives, four government officials and academic experts from both sides who are familiar with the Middle East Peace Process and the local situation also participated in the Conference. From Japan, Dr. Tatsuo Arima, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan (for the Middle East), Mr. Takehiro Kagawa, Deputy Director General, Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau, and three other people attended the conference. Prof. Tateyama was the co-ordinator.

1. 22nd (Day 1: closed)

(1) The participants had intense discussions mainly on the assessment of the Annapolis Process, economic development in the Palestinian territories, etc. They shared the view that they should continue their efforts for a peace agreement, and achieve a two-state solution in the end.

(2) Israeli and Palestinian participants stressed that the confidence-building projects and 'the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity' initiative promoted by Japan were helpful, and that they would cooperate with Japan in order to realise this initiative.

2. 23rd (Day 2: open)

(1) The Palestinian participants demanded freezing of Israeli settlement activities. On the other hand, the Israeli side requested Palestinian side to strengthen its counter-terrorism capabilities. Both participants highlighted the importance that a peace agreement should be concluded as soon as possible on a basis of a two-state solution.

(2) Mr. Meir Sheetrit, Minister of the Interior, and Dr. Sa'eb Erekat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs of the PLO had heated in-depth discussion on some important topics.

(3) Dr. Tatsuo Arima, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan (for the Middle East) made a closing speech. In the speech, he declared that Japan would continue its utmost efforts for helping the achievement of a peace agreement through its confidence-building projects and 'the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity' initiative.

3. Related Events

(1) Courtesy Call on Mr. Taro Aso, Prime Minister of Japan (22nd)

Mr. Meir Sheetrit, Minister of the Interior and Dr. Sa'eb Erekat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs of the PLO, paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister, Taro Aso on the 22nd.

(2) Courtesy Call on Mr. Hirofumi Nakasone, Minister for Foreign Affairs (22nd)

All the Israeli and the Palestinian participants paid a courtesy call on Mr. Hirofumi Nakasone, Minister for Foreign Affairs on the 22nd.

(3) Joint Press Conference

On the 23rd, Mr. Meir Sheetrit, Minister of the Interior and Dr. Sa'eb Erekat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs of the PLO held a joint press conference at Japan National Press Club. It was the first joint press conference by Israeli and Palestine representatives at Japan National Press Club.

<Reference> Participants

1) Israel

  • Mr. Meir Sheetrit, Interior Minister
  • Mr. Gilead Sher, former Israeli Prime Minister's Chief of Staff and Co-Chief Negotiator (1999-2001) with the Palestinians
  • Mr. Pini Meidan-Shani, Former Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister and member of the negotiation team
  • Mr. Daniel Reisner, International law and homeland security partner at Herzog, Fox and Neeman
  • Dr. Kobi Michael, Ph.D., Ben-Gurion University and the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies

2) Palestine

  • Dr. Sa'eb Erekat, Chief Palestinian Negotiator and Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department
  • Dr. Muhammad Shtayyeh, President of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR) , Former Minister of Housing and Public Works
  • Mr. Qaddura Fares, Former Minister of State
  • Dr. Khalil Shikaki, Director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research
  • Mr. Hani al-Masri, General Manager, Palestine Media Research and Studies Centre-Badael

3) Japan

  • Dr. Tatsuo Arima, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan for the Middle East
  • Mr. Takehiro Kagawa, Deputy Director-General, Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Prof. Ryoji Tateyama, Professor, Department of International Relations, National Defense Academy
  • Prof. Akifumi Ikeda, Professor, Toyo Eiwa University
  • Mr. Isamu Nakashima, Chief Researcher, The Middle East Research Institute of Japan

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