Ayalon said Israel was "very much interested in having free and fair elections in the Palestinian territories." He credited Israel's decision to withdraw some troops and allow the Palestinians "to control themselves" for helping the election take place "in an orderly fashion." He was interviewed for VOA's Persian-language News and Views television news program. The first portion of the interview was broadcast today (Jan. 13) and the second portion will air tomorrow (Jan. 14). Portions of the interview were also carried by other VOA language services.
Ayalon said Israel was "making painful concessions, and the Israeli society is torn apart" by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's "bold moves" to withdraw totally from Gaza and partially from the West Bank. The ambassador said the process will be difficult for Israelis and Palestinians, but he said Israel is ready to make concessions. "We would expect the Palestinians to be serious as we are, and to also be ready to make concessions as we are," he said, adding that the Palestinians will have to stop "all violence and terror activity." He said the United States can be "a great facilitator, a great helper and a great motivator," but the ultimate responsibility lies with the parties involved.
Asked about Iran's nuclear ambitions, Ayalon called the Tehran regime "very extreme and very dangerous...not just for the region, not just the people of Iran itself, but for the entire world." The Israeli ambassador said, "The people of Iran should know that the entire international community is unified in the understanding and also in the will to stop this regime from continuing its illegal activities."
VOA broadcasts several Persian-language TV programs to Iran. News and Views is a daily 30-minute television news show broadcast via satellite to audiences in Iran; Roundtable With You is a weekly 90-minute discussion show; and Next Chapter is a weekly 30-minute youth newsmagazine show. In addition, the special TV program Looking Ahead airs live as an occasional two-hour show focusing on the future of democracy and human rights in Iran. VOA's television shows complement VOA Persian's daily radio service and Radio Farda, a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, youth-oriented radio program that is a joint project of VOA and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The VOA Persian Service Internet site is www.voanews.com/persian.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages, including English.
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