Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Thursday evening that there is no connection between resolving the Iranian nuclear threat and advancing the peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Speaking at a Bar-Ilan University conference on US-Israel relations, Ayalon, a former ambassador to Washington, said "we must deal with the Iranians as if there is no Palestinian problem, and try to resolve the Palestinian issue as if the Iranian threat does not exist.
"Iran's atomic clock is now measured in months, not years. We must see to it that Iran pays a heavy economic and political price for failing to comply with the international community's demands that it suspend its nuclear program," the deputy FM added.
Ayalon praised the Obama administration, saying "it could establish, along with Russia, an international coalition against Iran."
The deputy FM went on to say that the international community's demand that Israel halts settlement construction in the West Bank was illegitimate, adding "the future of the settlements should be determined in the framework of a final status agreement with the Palestinians; it is unreasonable to ask Israel for gestures in this matter at this juncture."
During the conference Ayalon backed Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's position according to which Israel was no longer bound by the Annapolis accords, saying "it was a mistake. An interim agreement with the Palestinians is totally unrealistic. Under no circumstances will Israel withdraw from additional territories in the West Bank in the current reality, since any land we will cede will almost immediately be taken over by Hamas. These territories will become Hamastan and the Palestinian Authority will collapse."
According to Ayalon, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad expressed similar views in closed meetings.