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Photo: AP
Bush: Important letter
Photo: AP
Photo: AP
Ayalon: 20 years of service
Photo: AP
Ambassador Ayalon: Bush letter - historic
Outgoing Israeli ambassador to US says in meeting with reporters that Bush letter from 2004 recognizing settlements and not allowing return of refugees carries important historical significance and is one of greatest achievements of Sharon era

WASHINGTON- Speaking to Israeli reporters on Tuesday, outgoing Israeli Ambassador to Washington Danny Ayalon referred to a letter written by US President George W. Bush in 2004 as a historical document of the highest importance and even compared it to the Balfour Declaration

of 1917 giving legitimacy to the state of Israel.

 

"President Bush's letter from April 2004, in which he recognizes the West Bank settlements and determined that Palestinian refugees will not return to Israel – is on the same level as the Balfour declaration in terms of historical and political importance," Ayalon said in a farewell interview with Israeli reporters in Washington.

 

"If the Balfour Declaration determined the right of the Jewish people to a national home," said Ayalon, who will complete his four and-a-half year term on Wednesday, "then the Bush document defined the outline of the State of Israel."

 

During the interview Ayalon rejected the possibility of imposed pressure on Israel to accept a forced agreement under the Bush administration. According to him, the coordination between Washington and Israel will only get stronger due to the Iranian situation and international terrorism.

 

"From my acquaintance with Presdient Bush and Secretary of State Rice, they will not create artificial things. They won't force things. In my estimation, they will proceed with caution and and ases the situation on the ground if they won't see any internal process within the Palestinian Authority which could lead to a partner who could rule effectively, to deliver the goods and to negotiate with Israel, it will remain the same," he said.

 

Ayalon is planning on leaving Washington in the coming days after meetings with senior administertion officials. Among the meetings, Ayalon will attend a private farewell meeting with President Bush in the White House, and a farewell dinner with Secretary of State Rice.

 

Ayalon said that he plans to retire from the Foreign Service on January 1 after 20 years of service, and move to the private sector to work on economics. He also mentioned he received offers from the political arena, including running for mayor of Hod HaSharon, but said he does not wish to discuss it before his retirement.

 

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