Likud Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi politicians warned against releasing prisoners
and freezing settlement construction Saturday night, with most waiting until
after Shabbat to respond to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Friday-night
announcement that peace talks will be renewed.
Economy and Trade Minister
Naftali Bennett said his party’s standing up for its principles – that it will
not sit in a government that will negotiate on pre-’67 lines – proved
“When we insist, we can hold negotiations without preconditions,
without a freeze, and certainly without the bizarre demand to base them on ’67
lines,” he said. “As negotiations open, we will make sure to continue regular
life and construction in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem.”
Bennett, “history taught us that construction brings life and evacuating
settlements brings terror.”
The economy and trade minister also said he
will not agree that the European Union take part in the negotiations, since
their directive against funding in the West Bank proved that they are not an
“We are moving forward cautiously and with open eyes; we
are not naïve,” he concluded.
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee chairman Avigdor Liberman (Likud Beytenu) called for negotiations to
take place “with eyes wide open and without delusions.”
to hold negotiations, and it is even more important for those negotiations to
take place based on reality and not fantasy. I said several times that the
Israel-Palestinian conflict is unresolvable, at least not in the coming years,
so we have to manage it,” Liberman wrote in a long Facebook post.
Yisrael Beytenu leader said talks cannot be based on recognition of pre-1967
lines, quoting former foreign minister Abba Eban who called them “Auschwitz
borders,” and that Israel must clarify from the get-go that there will not be a
building freeze in Jerusalem or Jewish settlements in Judea and
Liberman suggested telling Kerry how many homes are already “in
the pipeline” in those areas.
Liberman added that what is possible at the
moment is a long-term interim agreement based on security and economic
cooperation, and that issues of borders and Jerusalem should be postponed to
Finally, he pointed out that Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas does not represent Gaza and said “it is unclear if his government
in Judea and Samaria is legally legitimate, since elections that were meant to
take place over three years ago in the PA were postponed again and
“It’s clear that Abbas cannot sign an agreement that the conflict
will end or give up on the right of return,” Liberman explained.
trust Netanyahu, who knows so well the dangers of returning to the 1967
borders,” Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon stated.
Still, Danon said
“we must not repeat the injustice of the past and uproot thousands of Jews from
their homes. I also hope that we learn from previous mistakes regarding the
release of prisoners with blood on their hands.
These murderers must not
be released as an ‘act of good will’ or as a prize for returning to the
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel warned
against Netanyahu giving in to Palestinian preconditions for talks.
reports of agreement to preconditions are true, this is a terrible mistake that
goes along with the agreement to release prisoners who endanger Israel’s
security,” Ariel said.
The Bayit Yehudi minister said he “will not help
in any way such an immoral and non- Jewish act that will allow freezing
construction in Jerusalem and in settlements.”
“I will use my authority
as housing minister to increase the supply of housing in places that are in
demand,” he added.
Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev
(Likud Beytenu) spoke out against releasing prisoners, saying it is a mistake to
give the Palestinians “gifts” before or during negotiations.
with blood on their hands cannot be let free. They must complete their sentence
for murdering innocent Jews. I will adamantly oppose this move and call for the
prime minister to stop making gestures toward the Palestinians, because every
gesture Israel gives led to more and more terror,” she stated.
Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip plan to hold
an emergency meeting late Sunday afternoon to formulate a response to the
Former council head Danny Dayan expressed doubts that any
actual negotiations will take place, tweeting: “My impression is there is no
agreement to resume substantive talks. Only to face-save Kerry. Talks about the
talks will continue in [Washington], DC.”
He added his advice to Likud
Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi members: “Your working assumption [is] Israel gave up
on all issues. Let the prime minister prove you wrong.”
contributed to this report.