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Elkin Makes Light of Tension with PM

As long as Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, Dep. Foreign Minister says any arguments he has with PM are trivial.
By Adam Ross
First Publish: 10/2/2013, 10:59 AM

Zeev Elkin in New York
Zeev Elkin in New York
Arutz Sheva

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) has trivialized the difference of opinion which saw him booted off the Prime Minister's plane to New York a few days ago. 

Deputy Foreign Minsister Elkin was one of a small number of MKs who accompanied Netanyahu for his recent trip to the US, where the Prime Minister met with President Barack Obama and addressed the UN General Assembly.

Last week, Israeli newspaper Yisrael Hayom said Elkin had been bumped off Netanyahu's flight to New York after embarrassing him politically.

According to the report, the prime minister was upset by statements Elkin had made, and by a petition he co-signed with about 30 other MKs, calling on Netanyahu to cancel any further releases of terrorist prisoners. He was replaced on the official plane to New York by Likud colleague, MK Gilad Erdan.

Elkin has been a harsh critic of Netanyahu's policy towards resuming talks with the Palestinian Authority.

The prime minister, has found himself increasingly entangled with many MKs in his Likud party. Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon also recently embarrassed him, saying that the government was not truly committed to a two-state solution and that the prime minister only renewed the "peace process" because he knew that an agreement would never be reached with the Palestinians.

In New York, the Deputy Foreign Minister acknowledged "there are differences in opinion between the Prime Minister and me on what the State of Israel should be prepared to offer in a deal with Palestinians." However, he also added, "this argument between us is only rhetorical because the other side is not even able to recognize Israel as a Jewish State." 

Elkin was making reference to a comment he said had been made by senior PA official Nabil Shaath, who said talks had reached a standstill because Israel and the US demanded palestinians Arabs recognize Israel as a Jewish state, something he said they would never do.

"As long as this is what the other side is saying," Elkin said, "it really is not worth investing time digging at the internal arguments between us."

Moving on to reflect on the prime minister's speech to the UN General Assembly, Elkin said:

"I congratulate the Prime Minister for his speech, which revealed the truth after a week of lies,” adding: “The prime minister presented the facts and the reality that exists behind the smoke screen of Iran’s smile attack. I think it was a strong speech, that spoke to the world in a loud and clear voice, and there is nothing more symbolic than ending of the last speech of the assembly, with the statement that the nation of Israel will not leave its homeland. That was the bottom line of the speech."

He continued, "he clearly told the world not to judge Iran by what it says but by what it does. He also told the world in no uncertain terms that Israel would not permit Iran to gain nuclear weapons."