Netanyahu and Blair (archive)
Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO

PM: We won't build massively in West Bank

Benjamin Netanyahu tells Quartet envoy Tony Blair that while Israel will not build tens of thousands of housing units, it will not freeze lives of Judea and Samaria residents either

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Quartet envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair on Sunday that the Palestinians want "zero construction" in the West Bank after the end of the freeze – a demand that will not be met by Israel.


He stressed that Israel will not be able to continue with the construction moratorium.


In a meeting held at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that on the one hand Israel will not build the tens of thousands of housings units awaiting approval, but on the other hand it will not freeze construction and the lives of the residents of the West Bank's Jewish communities either.


The two also discussed preconditions for peace negotiations, and the prime minister said none should be set by either side.


He noted that he is not putting the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state as a precondition and by the same token it would be unreasonable for the Palestinians to pose a precondition and threaten to abandon talks. It's not the way to seriously move forward towards a peace agreement, he said.


Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beiteinu) said, "Regardless of what the prime minister says, the binding decision is the one reached by the government," adding that "any signal indicating (to the Palestinians) that the Israeli government is withdrawing from what it has presented as a red line will cast a shadow over the negotiations."


Minister Daniel Hershkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi) said, "I do not like partial freezes. As far as I'm concerned, there is a cabinet decision according to which we resume construction on September 26. We must resume construction in two weeks.


"There is a solid majority in cabinet against the construction moratorium, also a partial one," he said.


Other ministers said they would await the results of the upcoming summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt before responding to Netanyahu's remarks.


Meanwhile, settler leaders are infuriated over Netanyahu's remarks suggesting that a partial settlement construction freeze will continue even after the end of the month.


Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan told Ynet that he expects the prime minister to deliver on the pledges he made in November 2009.


"The miserable cabinet decision, which brought the freeze upon us, also included a pledge to return to full construction after 10 months," he said. "Any deviation from this pledge would be akin to an ongoing freeze through other means."



פרסום ראשון: 09.12.10, 18:19
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