How are you feeling personally about Israel reaching 60 years of independence?
Sixty is a mature age and requires Israel to free itself from past problems and act in a grown up fashion. We are justified to be proud of our accomplishments in scientific research, art, education, architecture and more but I feel our society is heading towards a state of division and disintegration. I think we must reverse this trend and develop a new sense of unity.
There have been reports in the Israeli press of suggestions that Israel should not be spending so much money on the planned celebrations. How do you react to this?
It is true that when so many people are hungry and looking in dumpsters for food, it is difficult to celebrate, but there are also good reasons to do so. Budgets have been spent to restore and repair important sites and the occasion can be used to lend an historic and educational perspective for the younger generation. They must understand the essence of why we have a state.
What is the status of the law you have proposed that would compensate West Bank settlers who want to move back to Israel proper?
(Deputy Prime Minister) Haim Ramon said he would bring it up in the government and we have spoken to (ministers) Ehud Barak and Ami Ayalon to promote it as well. It is gaining support among the settlers and every day we work on this. Tomorrow we are hosting the French Foreign Minister to discuss this issue.
Both Israelis and Palestinians have been quoted as saying that time is running out on the two state solution. What do you think?
I admit that some days it looks like this option gets farther away, not closer. At times there are question marks as to whether the Palestinians have a real desire for this solution. More Israelis, including the Prime Minister, realize that it is the only solution so Israel needs to act with courage, letting go of the past, to accomplish this goal.