Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Tuesday that former prime minister Ariel Sharon sent him on a secret mission ten years ago following the publication of the Saudi Peace Initiative to meet with Saudi representatives to discuss it, but they refused to meet him. Ayalon's comments came at a conference at the Foreign Ministry to announce a new ministry initiative to put the issue of Jewish refugees high on the international agenda. Ayalon, who was Sharon's foreign policy advisor at the time, said he was sent to meet his Saudi counterpart Adel Al-Jubeir, who today is the Kingdom's ambassador to Washington. Al-Jubeir refused to meet him, Ayalon said. The deputy foreign minister angrily dismissed comments from someone in the crowd who said Israel never gave the Saudi initiative a chance. Ayalon said the problem with the initiative was that it was a dictate and not something that could be negotiated. During the conference, Ayalon said that the Foreign Ministry had directed its ambassadors and representatives abroad to raise with governments abroad the issue of some-850,000 Jewish refugees who were forced to flee Arab and Middle Easter countries. Of those refugees, some 650,000 were absorbed in Israel. Ayalon said that raising the issue serves a number of purposes. Firstly, he said, it attempts to redress a historic wrong. Secondly, it will make sure that Israel documents claims from the first generation of refugees, who are dying off. Another of the goals, he said, is that when the refugee issue comes up in any final negotiations, all immigrants, Arab, Jewish and Muslims alike, will be treated equally.