NEW YORK – The focus of the Palestinians on the issue of the settlement moratorium is an “all-or-nothing” approach, which is a “pretext” that bodes poorly for negotiations, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Ayalon also said the Foreign Ministry is “not at all” marginalizing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s peace efforts, despite the apparent dissonance between the positions of the ministry and Netanyahu exemplified by Avigdor Lieberman’s remarks to the United Nations General Assembly the same day.

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“I think we’re all working for the same goal – two states for two peoples,” Ayalon said of the Foreign Ministry and Netanyahu.

“So we are on the same page here.”

When asked what Israel’s plan is to keep the Palestinians at the negotiation table, Ayalon turned the question around.

“I think the question should not be what Israel is going to do – Israel has done a lot,” Ayalon said. “The question is, how committed and how serious are the Palestinians in trying to bring about a peaceful solution to the conflict?” Ayalon added that Palestinians’ anger about the end of the moratorium on settlement construction was a “pretext.”

“The fact that they are using the freeze, or settlements generally, as a pretext is something which is new to the negotiation tactics from the last 10 months or so,” Ayalon said. “But they wasted nine-and-a-half of the 10 months [saying] that, supposedly, the freeze was not genuine. Now they keep pressing to continue it as a precondition to continue the talks.

“This is absolutely not acceptable,” Ayalon said.



“This is not a way to build trust, and this is not a way to trade concessions. It’s an allor- nothing approach which we cannot accept, and this will not bode well for the [talks’] continuation.

“If Israel accepted this dictate, then its position would be compromised throughout the negotiations,” Ayalon added.

He then turned to the subject of the strained relations with Turkey.

“Israeli-Turkish relations are important for the two countries, and we would like to see a balanced approach from Ankara, without support [of] terror organizations like Hamas,” Ayalon said.

“The answer to this question is in Ankara.”

If you’re saying that the answer to the Turkish dilemma lies in Ankara, and the answer to the fate of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is in Ramallah, then is there nothing Israel can do in either of these situations but wait and see?

“With the Palestinians what we have done was a major concession for a 10- month freeze on the settlements,” Ayalon said. “And I believe that if they came forward, with no preconditions, we could discuss everything: Jerusalem, the refugees and the settlements, of course, and borders – and first and foremost, security arrangements before everything else.

“I think Israel has done a lot,” Ayalon continued, citing the Israeli-Palestinian two-states-for-two-peoples issue as an example. “We demand that they will recognize a Jewish state, but we didn’t state it as a precondition to negotiations.

“We have not put any preconditions on any of the details which are extremely, vitally important to us,” Ayalon said. “So we should expect the same of the Palestinians.”

But isn’t that somewhat disingenuous on a certain level, if any vision of the future which does not involve Israel as a Jewish state is a non-starter?

“We could have said the same thing – that a freeze is a non-starter for us!” Ayalon said, adding that not having done so “showed a lot of respect to the international community, and it was a major gesture to the Palestinians that should not be abused.”

And then what of Iran’s nuclear capability? Who will stop Iran?

“I believe the international community is committed to do that,” Ayalon said.

“Because it’s the international community who will feel the consequences. [It] will not allow Iran to become nuclear.

“I have great faith in the international community,” Ayalon added.

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