Yossi Beilin, former chairman of the leftist Meretz party, warned on Wednesday that a temporary freeze of Jewish construction in the West Bank would lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.
During a ceremony at the Jaffa residence of French Ambassador Chritophe Bigot, during which he received the Legion of Honor, Beilin said he has learned that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to declare a 10-month settlement freeze. According to him, the Palestinian will not accept such a move and may dissolve as a result.
Beilin said the construction freeze will not include Jerusalem or building in the West Bank that is aimed at accommodating "natural growth" within the Jewish communities there.
"The Americans will say they had nothing to do with the declaration but that it indicates major progress and will call for resuming peace negotiations. The Palestinians will say, 'No'," according to Beilin.
"Such an announcement will create a vacuum, because the Palestinians will say that this marks the first time that the Americans recognize Israeli construction in the territories," said the former Knesset member, "This may lead to the PA's collapse."
Beilin also criticized the US' Mideast policy, saying President Barack Obama first year in office was "wasted."
"Instead of conducting negotiations similar to those held in Madrid, (special Mideast envoy George) Mitchell failed," he said.