7:33pm

Mon May 23, 2011
The Two-Way

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister: Talking Borders Is 'Premature'

Last week, NPR's Robert Siegel spoke to officials from the Palestinian organizations Hamas and Fatah. Today, he spoke to Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon.

Ayalon said that the United States and Israel remain "best friends and allies," despite the disagreement they had after President Barack Obama's Mideast speech, last week. As we've reported, the fact that Obama said a deal between Israel and Palestine should be structured around the 1967 borders and swaps has caused a great amount of diplomatic hand wringing.

Ayalon told Robert that "any reference to borders is premature."

He said that borders are part of a core part of the negotiating process and you can't settle the issue before settling other issues including recognition and what happens to Jerusalem:

Robert asked Ayalon why Israel was being so broad with its demands. He asked him why they wouldn't detail what hard choices they are willing to make. Ayalon said that any time they've done it in the past, the Palestinians try to push them further at the negotiating table. So, the bottom line, he said, is that it's part of a good negotiating strategy:

Ayalon did agree with Obama when he said the status quo is not sustainable.

"It is Israel's priority and interest to get peace with the Palestinians," he said. "But not in a way that will compromise our future here or our ability to defend ourselves in the future." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.