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Ayalon: J'lem should recognize Palestine at UN
By TAMARA ZIEVE
02/09/2013
Outgoing deputy FM: Israel should give Palestinians sovereignty, for recognition of Israel as Jewish home, security arrangements.
 
Israel should recognize Palestine as a full member of the United Nations, outgoing Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Saturday at a weekly cultural event in Holon.

"Israel will give the Palestinians sovereignty and independence and in return, they will recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people and will guarantee security arrangements," he said.

Ayalon called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to say to the Palestinians: "I am prepared to recognize you, but you have to recognize me."

Ayalon also said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must state in Arabic - rather than in Hebrew or English - that he recognizes Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people. He opined that such a statement would have a huge impact on generations to come.

Asked whether Abbas is interested in reaching an agreement, Ayalon replied that even the minimum that the Palestinians are demanding is not aligned with what Israel is willing to give. "Abbas wants to preserve the status of being the president that achieved wide international recognition for the Palestinians without relinquishing Jerusalem or the right of return," he said.

Addressing US President Barack Obama's recent announcement that he will be visiting Israel in the spring, Ayalon said he expected that there would be a three-way summit meeting between Netanyahu, Abbas and Obama, or perhaps even a four-way meeting in Amman with Jordanian King Abdullah II.

He referred to the upcoming visit as an American interest, that should put Obama back in a position of leadership in the dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace process. He added that the trip would pave the way for the new US Secretary of State John Kerry, as the person who will continue negotiations between the parties. "If the president's visit does not yield results, it will raise a lot of doubts and criticism," Ayalon asserted.

Kerry is expected to make his first visit to Israel in his new role next week.

'The world treated Liberman like a leper'

Turning to his relationship with former foreign minister and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, Ayalon said that the latter did not explain why he fired him and opined that he should have "at least given reasons to the party (Yisrael Beytenu) and his supporters." Ayalon was one of three Yisrael Beytenu MKs not included on the party's list for the recent elections.

He said that in the four years that he served as Liberman's deputy he felt a duty to defend him, when across the world "he was treated like a leper." He said that out of respect he would not repeat what he had heard said of Liberman, but added that his undiplomatic statements did not help the world view of him.

Ayalon refused to grade Liberman as a foreign minister, simply stating that he has done his best in challenging times. When questioned over who should serve as Israel's next foreign minster, Ayalon threw his support behind Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, as well as nominating himself.  
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