While many ministers and MKs on Sunday criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to freeze settlement construction for 10 months, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon praised the "historic" decision, and urged the Palestinian Authority to seize the opportunity for peace.
"We hope the Arabs will not repeat the miscalculation of November 29, 1947, and will not miss the opportunity to achieve peace. Netanyahu's decision to freeze settlements is historic and unprecedented," Ayalon said during a discussion at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Ayalon was referring to UN General Assembly Resolution 181 to establish the Jewish State, which was passed 62 years ago on November 29 and was rejected by the Palestinians leadership and Arab states.
"Today there is a real opportunity, no less important than UN resolution 181, to sign a peace agreement with the Palestinians. The problem is that the Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. I hope that this time the Palestinians do not miss the opportunity to establish real peace," the deputy minister said.
Ayalon went on to claim that while Israel has made many concessions, the Palestinians have not taken the necessary steps.
"Since 1993, the Israeli and Palestinian concessions have been asymmetrical. Israel has made many concessions, but the Palestinians have fortified their positions and have not made any progress on the issues of Jerusalem, the refugees, borders and recognizing the state of Israel," said Ayalon. "Israel is determined to continue the peace process - but two sides are necessary for this purpose.
"We consider a peace agreement as a means for living side by side in peace, not as an aim or a goal. I call on the Palestinians to come to their senses, see what is in their best interest and begin peace negotiations," Ayalon concluded.
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai also expressed support for the prime minister's freeze offer.
"Netanyahu is paying heed to his national responsibility," he told Army Radio on Sunday afternoon, adding that it was clear that the prime minister had Israel's best interests at heart.
At the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday morning, Netanyahu referred to General Assembly Resolution 181, and praised Israeli youths for their fighting spirit.
"Today we mark the 29th of November, on which the UN approved General Assembly Resolution 181 to establish the Jewish State. The basis of a Jewish State is, first if all, a Jewish army, the IDF, and it is founded on the recruitment and volunteerism of our youth," the prime minister said.
"This year there has been a welcome increase in the level of recruits, in number, including those going to combat units - a seven percent increase. All those who are eulogizing and have discounted the enlisting and fighting spirit of our youth are invited to visit the main induction center. I intend to do so in the near future. You will be convinced that there are youth who are full of motivation, full of power, full of ability that enlist and, when necessary, fight, and support fighters," Netanyahu told the ministers.