Settlers: No Jewish state without West Bank construction
Leaders of Jewish communities in West Bank slam PM's offer for new construction freeze in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as Jewish state, say he will be put in 'political slaughterhouse' if plan implemented. 'It is our Zionist right and duty to build here,' they declare
"What kind of Jewish state will this become if only Jews are prohibited from building homes?" the Yesha Council said Monday after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would agree to impose another settlement construction freeze in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
"Israel must not extend the freeze under any circumstances. The settlement enterprise is the source of Israel's strength and we cannot allow it to be held hostage by (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas," Yesha said in a statement.
"Continuing the construction moratorium is a trap, after which Netanyahu will be placed in a political slaughterhouse with nothing left of his credibility."
Moshe Rosenbaum, head of the Bel El Regional Council, called Netanyahu's statement "miserable," despite the fact that Likud officials said it was aimed at alleviated both international and domestic pressure.
'State of Israel's existence at risk.' PM speaks at Knesset Monday (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"Tactically it may have been a wise move, but its significance is severe. This is not only about the destruction of the settlement enterprise, it is about the destruction of the State of Israel," said Rosenbaum.
The head of the Shomron Regional Council, Gershon Mesika, said, "Judea and Samaria are an important part of the Land of Israel, and it is our Zionist right and duty to build here; this is why the people elected (Netanyahu)."
Settlement construction (Photo: Reuters)
Hananel Dorani, head of the Kedumim Council, said Netanyahu's offer would hurt Israel in the long run. "This freeze, besides being a non-Zionist measure, indicates to the entire world that the settlers in Judea and Samaria pose a problem and that our construction must be stopped. It plays into the Palestinians' hands," he said.
According to Mesika, any "hesitation or zigzag" only leads to more international pressure for additional concessions.
"Everyone realizes that if (Netanyahu) can't withstand the pressure now, there is now way he'll be able to withstand the pressure from (US President Barack) Obama once the midterm elections are over," he added.
The Karnei Shomron Council is waiting for Netanyahu to issue tenders for the construction of 500 housing units in the community. "Now is the time to resume construction in all those places where it was stopped – Gilo, Ramat Shlomo, Pisgat Ze'ev and Givat Ze'ev," council chairman Herzl Ben-Ari said.
However, not all settler leaders consider Netanyahu's offer detrimental to the settlement enterprise. "I think the prime minister's demand is legitimate, and it should have been presented before the initial construction moratorium," said Efrat Council head Oded Revivi.
Alfei Menashe Council head Hisdai Eliezer said, "If the prime minister is looking to continue the freeze for a few months, after which we will have achieved peace with the Palestinians or exposed Abbas' true character – I'm all for it.
"We may prove that the freeze was a Palestinian excuse and that we are not the ones who are hindering peace, and it is time the world understands this," he said.
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