Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, Foreign Minister of Iceland, returned recently from an eight-day working visit to the Middle East, where she visited Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan. The aim of Minister Gisladottir’s visit was to learn first hand about the situation in the area and to explore ways in which Iceland might contribute.
In Israel, Minister Gisladottir met with President Shimon Peres and her counterpart, Mrs. Tzipi Livni. She also held a number of meetings with other politicians in the Knesset. In Ramallah she met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Minister Gisladottir also visited the Aida Palestinian refugee camp near Bethlehem and the Israeli town of Sderot which has frequently been targeted in missile attacks. She also met with Icelandic aid workers in the region, visited victims of the conflict and had meetings with influential Israeli and Palestinian women.
At the conclusion of the visit Minister Gisladottir said the overriding message from all parties was that it was paramount to start peace discussions immediately. “There is a window of opportunity for leaders in Israel, Palestine and the international community to reach an agreement that could bring a final settlement, but the message from all parties is that they have to move fast,” Minister Gisladottir said.