How Does Israel View U.S. Policy On Peace Talks?
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
Welcome to the program once again.
DANIEL AYALON: Thank you. Good to be here with you, Robert.
SIEGEL: Which is it? Is Israel greatly disturbed by the Obama speech, or are things OK?
AYALON: However, Robert, why are we so concerned is that any line, any demarcation, any final borders would be the result of negotiations and...
SIEGEL: Mr. Ayalon, it didn't take a very careful reading to see that clause with the agreed upon - mutually agreed upon swaps. That was the phrase the president used. He wasn't saying go back to the 1967 borders.
AYALON: Yes. But any reference - in my mind, at least - to define borders, I think it's a little bit premature because all the core issues are basically interrelated. And you cannot really cherry pick, and I am saying this to the Palestinians.
SIEGEL: You said yesterday in the big West Bank city of Maale Adumim, which is home to about 30,000 people just East of Jerusalem, that the future of that city is, and I quote, "the same as that of Jerusalem and the State of Israel."
SIEGEL: Are there any West Bank settlements whose future is not the same as Jerusalem and the State of Israel?
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
AYALON: Well, I have said it specifically about Maale Adumim. First of all, because as you mentioned, it's a city with 30--actually, 32,000 inhabitants. And I'm trying to be pragmatic and not look into the ideology and to our claim and rights and everything like that, but we know that the major blocs of settlements would not be touched. By the way, Robert...
SIEGEL: Why isn't Israel more clear about the fact that that's what its view of hard choices consist of?
AYALON: So I think it's also a matter of tactics of negotiations, which is also makes good sense for us.
SIEGEL: Yeah. Although there are no negotiations right now.
AYALON: Unfortunately, no.
SIEGEL: Do you agree that the status quo is unsustainable, because it often appears that Israel thinks it's doing OK with the status quo and can go on like this indefinitely? What would you say?
AYALON: Well, I fully agree with the president, and we do not want to see a continuation of the status quo. It is Israel's priority and interest to get peace with the Palestinians, but not in a way which will compromise our future here or our ability to defend ourselves in the future.
SIEGEL: Mr. Ayalon, thank you very much for talking with us once again.
AYALON: Thank you, Robert.
SIEGEL: That's Dani Ayalon, now the deputy foreign minister of Israel, formerly Israeli ambassador in Washington, spoke to us from his home near Tel Aviv.
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