Netanyahu. 'The people of Israel live'
Photo: Flash 90

Netanyahu: Settlement blocs forever Israeli

Ahead of Tu B'Shvat holiday, prime minister plants trees with West Bank settlers, says 'vast majority of Israel's citizens accept settlement blocs as inseparable part of Israel'

"The message is clear – we are here and will remain here. We are planting and building; this is an inseparable part of the State of Israel," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday during a tree-planting tour of the West Bank settlement blocs.


Netanyahu made the comments shortly after meeting the visiting US Mideast envoy George Mitchell. Mitchell has been pressing Israel to halt settlement construction in the West Bank.


At a tree-planting ceremony in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion ahead of the Tu B'Shvat holiday, Netanyahu said, "This is the first stop. From here we will go on to plant trees in other places.


"This is an inseparable part of the State of Israel. The vast majority of Israel's citizens accept this, and it is gradually being instilled in the international psyche," said the prime minister.


He then planted a cedar tree seed along with the kibbutz's children, and promised them that "your children and grandchildren will grow in this tree's shadow, and "Am Yisrael Chai (The People of Israel Live)".

Netanyahu planting tree with Kfar Etzion children (Photo: Flash 90)


The Palestinians claim all of the West Bank for a future independent state and say settlements undermine this goal. Israel recently declared a 10-month settlement construction moratorium.


Gush Etzion Council Head Shaul Goldstein accompanied Netanyahu on his tour. "These are difficult times for the Zionist settlement enterprise in the Land of Israel," he said, "We all await the day when we will be able to resume the settling of the Land of Israel with full force."


Addressing Netanyahu, Goldstein said, "I hope we will be able to plant trees again next year, as you have promised – a new home in Israel; a new classroom and a new kindergarten."


AP contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 01.24.10, 16:29
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