Outgoing Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon commented Saturday on US President Barack Obama's planned visit to the region in the spring, saying he expects Washington to push of a "mini-summit" with Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
"I assume that at the moment plans are being made to arrange a meeting for Obama, Netanyahu, Abu Mazen and perhaps even Jordan's King Abdullah," he said, speaking at a panel held in Holon.
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Ayalon hedged that the best venue for such a meeting would be Jordan.
The deputy foreign minister also commented on the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, saying he believe Israel should accept the UN's decision to upgrade the Palestinian Authority status.
Obama, Netanyahu and Abbas (Archives: AFP)
Such recognition is in Israel's interest and would do much to reignite the stalled peace talks, he said: "Israel will give sovereignty and independence to Palestinians and in return they will recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people," he said.
Obama's visit, he added "Serves an American interest – to reposition the president as the point-man on the Middle East peace process.
"This visit also means to pave the way for US Secretary of State John Kerry as the one who will continue to mediate the negotiations between the parties. If the president's visit fails to yield any results, a lot of eyebrows will be raised," he said.
Asked whether Abbas is truly seeking a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ayalon said that "The minimum that the Palestinians are asking for does not coincide with what Israel is willing to give.
"Abbas wants to be the one to get the Palestinians international recognition (as a state) without relinquishing the right of return and Jerusalem.
"On the other hand, he has to answer to the Americans, who are backing his rule… if Netanyahu can get Abbas to say – in Arabic, not English to Hebrew – that he recognizes Israel as the Jewish homeland it would have historical significance for generations to come."
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