Deputy FM: 'Iran Atomic Clock' Ticking

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said there is no connection whatsoever between addressing the Iranian nuclear arms race and the Palestinian issue.

"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," Ayalon told participants at a conference on U.S.-Israeli relations at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv.

"Iran's atomic clock is now measured in months, not years," the deputy foreign minister said.

"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," he said.

Ayalon said the Obama administration's mandate was "to establish, along with Russia, an international coalition against Iran."

Ayalon also reiterated Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's assessment that the U.S.-backed conference in Annapolis, Maryland, in November 2007 was a mistake and its "interim agreement" meaningless.

"It was a mistake," Ayalon said. "An interim agreement with the Palestinians is totally unrealistic. Under no circumstances will Israel withdraw from additional territories in the West Bank (Judae and Samaria) 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," Ayalon said, adding that in closed meetings, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad admitted the same.

Ayalon also called international demands to halt construction in Jewish communities illegitimate.

"The future of the settlements should be determined in the framework of a final status agreement with the Palestinians," he said.

"It is unreasonable to ask Israel for gestures in this matter at this juncture," Ayalon concluded.

Source: YNet news

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