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Netanyahu at the committee
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Livni. Not doing a favor to US
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin

PM: We won’t freeze life in settlements

Netanyahu tells Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee he is committed to evacuate illegal West Bank outposts. 'The settlements' fate will be determined in the permanent agreement,' he says

On the backdrop of American pressure to halt construction in settlements, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday "not to freeze life in Judea and Samaria."

 

He clarified, however, that he is committed to the evacuation of illegal West Bank outposts.

 

Netanyahu attended the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting for the first time since taking office two months ago. The issues discussed by the committee members included the Iranian threat and the situation in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

 

"We are not like other countries. We are facing a stockpile of threats no other nation is facing. My commitment is to Israel's security. It's my responsibility," he said.


Netanyahu with Committee Chairman MK Tzachi Hanegbi (Photo: Dudi Vaaknin)

 

The prime minister also told the committee members about his recent meeting with US President Barack Obama and his other Washington meetings. "We affirmed the understandings on strategic issues. There was an agreement on the danger of a nuclear Iran and on our right top defend ourselves at all times."

 

He added that during the visit "we did not discuss a linkage between the Iranian and Palestinian issues. We did say that a nuclear Iran would provide an umbrella for the terror organizations."

 

Netanyahu hinted that Israel was monitoring the American response to the North Korean nuclear test and missile launches.

 

Addressing the negotiations with the Palestinians, the prime minister said that "we are willing to resume the negotiations immediately and without any preconditions. We are also ready for a political as well as economic-security process.

 

"We don’t want to control the Palestinians, but we also don't want them to have their own army and the ability to sign pacts with Iran. The essence is important. We won't build new settlements. The plan is to dismantle unauthorized outposts. There are reasonable demands and unreasonable demands. The settlements' fate will be determined in the permanent agreement."

 

The security forces evacuated several illegal outposts in recent days, but the structures were rebuilt by settlers shortly after their demolition.

 

On Monday, Civil Administration officials destroyed two improvised caravans at the Nahalat Yosef agricultural farm, located about 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from the settlement of Elon Moreh. Another caravan was relocated into the settlement. There were no reports of unusual incidents.

 

Livni: Come to your senses

Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni said during the meeting, "It's distressing seeing deterioration, diplomatic collapse and the damage caused to Israel's relations with the world. I believe that the Israel-US relations, which are based on profoundness and an understanding of interests, are stronger than your government's problematic policy, but I do home you will come to your senses before more damage is caused and further Israeli interests are harmed.

 

"Solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a favor you are doing to the US. It's a clear Israeli interest. Playing for time will only lead to the worst result for Israel. I'm telling you, doing things the right way will recruit the US for the things that are important to us, including the (settlement) blocs."

 

She also said that the opening of crossings was a "victory to Hamas". Livni added, "I do welcome one change you've done: You no longer talk only about economic peace, but also about a diplomatic dialogue."

 

On the other side of the table, Knesset Member Miri Regev (Likud) slammed the previous government's policy, saying that "the prime minister is doing the right thing by halting the policy of the Kadima government, which made unstoppable gestures to the Palestinians, and the only thing it got in return was terror and incitement."

 

MK Regev added, "I strengthen the prime minister for his policy and for maintaining the State of Israel's security interests. We must not talk about removing outposts when Israel's security is in danger, from Iran to Hamas."

 


פרסום ראשון: 06.01.09, 12:46
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