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Israel's deputy FM says ready to sit for talks

June 22, 2011 3:44 A.M. (Updated: June 24, 2011 11:12 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel's deputy foreign minister said Wednesday that "Israel has recognized a Palestinian state and is ready to sit with the Palestinians to reach an understanding on the condition that there will be no outside intervention by the UN."

"The Israeli government is ready to discuss all of the details with the Palestinians as long as they don't go to the UN; this is a path that leads toward disaster and will put an end to Oslo Accords," Danny Ayalon said in an interview with Ma'an television.

A Palestinian bid at the UN is different than the 1948 appeal by Jewish groups who sought the recognition of an Israeli state, Ayalon said.

He also denied that there was any Israeli move to stymie Palestinian diplomatic efforts to gain recognition, contrary to several news reports from the week before.

"Israel was established in 1948 under UN resolution 181, which stipulated the establishment of two states within the area of the British Mandate, a Jewish state and an Arab state, but the Arabs rejected the resolution and the war stated. The Palestinian bid is a unilateral effort [for a single state], that is the difference," he said.

Ayalon conceded there were myriad obstacles in front of a resumption to negotiations, which Palestinian leaders say can resume as soon as Israel stops settlement construction on lands internationally recognized to be occupied, but he believes the obstacles can be overcome gradually.

"What is being talked about now is a transitional agreement that grants the Palestinians the right to establish a state without solving all of the problems including refugees, the wall, borders, security agreements and Jerusalem."

But Ayalon dismissed the wall as an obstacle, saying it was "not an obstacle to peace," and could be "dismantled at any moment."

The separation wall, which started to go up during the Second Intifada, cuts deep into Palestinian territory, up to 22 kilometers, and cuts off access for Palestinians to Jerusalem.
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