In what appeared to be an attempt to distance Israel from some of the controversial statements made by its own prime minister, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Thursday criticized the “noise” in U.S.-Israeli relations that has been generated by “not very well judiciously planned remarks from both sides.”
Appearing in New York before the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish organizations, Ayalon referred to statements that “may have been misconstrued as prodding the U.S. to take action against Iran” and described them as “totally wrong.” He said that Jerusalem and Washington “see eye to eye on Iran” and that this understanding is greater than “statements that may have been amplified by the media.”
Ayalon also said that he “wished to set the record straight” in case “there was any misreading” of Israel’s intentions concerning the American elections, saying that it is the official Israeli policy “to stay as far away as possible” from internal American politics. He said that Israel cherishes bipartisan American support and “makes no distinctions” between Democrats and Republicans.
“Israel has no better friend than the U.S. and no better friend than President Obama in the international community,” Ayalon said.
Ayalon presented the outlines of the new Israeli initiative to focus international attention on the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, which will be officially launched Friday at the United Nations. He said that Israel owes a “moral debt” to the 856,000 Jews who fled from persecution or were evicted in the wake of the 1948 War of Independence. “Better late than never,” he said.
Ayalon said that Israel’s absorption of the Jewish refugees should serve as a model for the resolution of the Palestinian refugees as well. He said that Security Council Resolution 242 calls for the “just resolution of the refugee problem” and does not differentiate between Jewish and Palestinian refugees. Ayalon added that the Israeli government will soon dedicate an official day to the commemoration of the plight of the Jewish refugees and will authorize the establishment of a museum in Jerusalem dedicated to preserving the memories and testimonies of Jewish life in the Arab world.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor, who will also speak in the Friday ceremony at the UN, said Thursday that the new Israeli initiative will put an end to the “conspiracy of silence” at the international body which has adopted no less than 172 decisions on Palestinian refugees – “and not one word about the Jewish refugees from the Arab world.”
Ayalon, who will head the Israeli delegation to the Donors Conference to the Palestinians that will be held on Sunday, lambasted the Palestinian Authority’s financial ineptness. He said that the PA had amassed an unsustainable debt while continuing to pay 12,000 NIS a month to “families of terrorists” and financing “the enormous entourage that accompanies Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on his trips abroad.”
Finally, Ayalon threatened that any acceptance of the Palestinian bid for membership in the UN would put an end to the “political process – now or in the future.”
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