Daily Israel Report

Deputy FM Ayalon: Israel Accepts Two-State Goal

Deputy FM makes most explicit statement to date confirming that a final-status accord with the PA would mean a two-state solution.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 5/3/2009, 10:03 PM

“The government of Israel, because of our democratic tradition and because of the continuity principle, is going to abide by all previous commitments the former government took, including the acceptance of the road map to peace which will lead to a two-state solution,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Sunday.

The Bloomberg news agency reported that Ayalon made the comments in his Jerusalem office.

The statement is the most explicit one by the present government regarding the acceptance of the two-state model. Its timing is significant: Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will begin a tour of Europe Monday. He will visit Italy, France, the Czech Republic and Germany. President Shimon Peres will meet President Barack Obama on May 5 and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will visit Washington a short time later.

The Deputy Foreign Minister, who is also from Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, said that Iran was making an effort to derail progress toward peace by supporting Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon.

Ayalon called for harsher international sanctions against Iran's nuclear program. Talks on the Iranian nuclear program “shouldn’t be open-ended” and the time alloted to them “should be measured by months and not years.”

To date, Netanyahu has stopped short of publicly endorsing the idea of a PA state. Instead, he has said that he intends to focus on “an economic peace” – built around improving the PA economy.

Shmuel Sandler, a political scientist at Bar Ilan University, told Bloomberg that Ayalon’s statement was meant to ensure Israel wouldn’t be blamed for slowing down peace negotiations. “They realized that it is not worthwhile not to accept this and pay dearly for it internationally,” Sandler said. “Why should they be punished for something that is very theoretical?”

Foreign Minister Lieberman said on April 1 that Israel is not bound by commitments it made at the Annapolis Conference in 2007 and would follow the “road map.” Ayalon’s statement appears to contradict that position.

Oren: Israel won't allow Iran nukes
Dr. Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador designate to the United States, said on Sunday that he did not believe Israel would allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Speaking at the annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Oren also said that many officials in the region consider the halting of Iran's support of terrorism vital to progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, "even if they do not say so" overtly.

Ynet reports that Oren was approached by hundreds of people who asked to congratulate him on the appointment, but he said he was still awaiting the cabinet's final decision on the matter. If his appointment is approved, Oren is expected to accompany Netanyahu on his first state visit to Washington on May 16. He received Lieberman's approval following a weekend meeting, in spite of remarks made earlier this year in which he supported Israeli withdrawal from parts of Judea and Samaria.