Vice Premier and Minister for Regional Development Silvan Shalom visited a settlers' protest tent on Tuesday and said that while striking peace is Israel's ultimate goal, it will never agree to any preconditions.
The heads of Yesha Council and various West Bank councils have been camping outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Jerusalem home in protest of the planned settlement freeze, since Monday..
"Peace is our ultimate goal but settlements are not what's hindering it. There is a wide consensus as to the settlement movement and Israel will never agree to any preconditions to peace," said Shalom.
"The US is a trusty ally. We want to work with the US administration in order to promote peace, but the key to that is not in Washington – it's in Ramallah. They are the ones who have to agree to negotiate with us.
"We sending our support to prime minister from here, in hopes that there is a new path ahead, one that would preserve Israel's crucial interests," he added."
"A failed summit is not a good thing, but you have to see the bigger picture. The settlements are not the problem and the Palestinians have to realize that."
Shalom and Landau (M) at the protest tent (Photo: Dudi Vaaknin)
National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau also visited the tent and said that "for the past 16 years we have been suffering from a disease called the Oslo Accords, which led to our running away from Lebanon, the Road Map and the disengagement.
"It is high time we spoke of our right to historical justice," he continued, "time for us to say that we can live anywhere and continue building the settlement blocs. A freeze is unacceptable and we must regain normalcy everywhere in Israel."
Communication Minister Moshe Kahlon also visited the tent, saying he was there as a show of support: "Israel's interest will served best by continued construction, not a settlement freeze."
Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan said that "We have worked hard to see this government elected and it has an obligation to the Israeli voter. The promise was clear – bolstering the settlement movement in Judea and Samaria.
"Unfortunately, with the exception of 450 housing units, we are experiencing a complete freeze. This policy must change. This cannot be left up to Abu Mazen."
Netanyahu is currently in New York, ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting. The prime minister was expected to meet with US President Barack Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for a much anticipated three-way summit at 7 pm (GMT).