'Construction freeze would be ethnic cleansing'

ByGIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
October 22, 2011 22:48

Vice Premier Ya'alon responds to reports that Netanyahu willing to partially freeze settlement construction if Abbas resumes direct talks.




Ya'alon poses in front of a picture of Menachem Be

yaalon begin pic 311. (photo credit:Ariel Jerozolimski)

Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon came out fiercely against a reported proposal for an Israeli construction moratorium in Judea and Samaria Saturday night, calling the prohibition of Jewish building “ethnic cleansing.”

Speaking to a packed audience at Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue, Ya’alon referred indirectly to a Haaretz report that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is willing to freeze all construction on government land in West Bank settlements if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas resumes direct diplomatic negotiations.



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“The demand for territory without Jews anywhere else would be called ethnic cleansing,” Ya’alon said. “We cannot accept a demand for ethnic cleansing in the land of Israel.”


Ya’alon said that Israel was under pressure from people who incorrectly believe the cause of the Middle East conflict is the building of homes in Judea and Samaria. He denounced that theory as “a corrupt way of thinking” and explained why the true cause of Middle East instability was the Islamic fundamentalism emanating from Iran.

The vice premier expressed confidence that an International Atomic Energy Association report set to be released on November 7 would expose to any remaining skeptics in the international community the military intentions of Iran’s nuclear program. He said he hoped sanctions on Iran could then be tightened.

Ya’alon called the Arab Spring “a regional earthquake” that exposed young Muslims to Western ideals such as human rights, women’s rights, freedom of speech, and “the sanctity of life as opposed to the sanctity of death.”

But he said he was not encouraged by radical elements apparently gaining the upper hand in Egypt and Tunisia, al-Qaida infiltrating Libya and Iran attempting to export its Islamic fundamentalism throughout the Arab world.

He made a point of not explaining his vote against the Gilad Schalit deal beyond what he had said before about his heart saying yes and his head saying no.

“We should be happy about the reunification of Schalit’s family but prepared to deal with the consequences for the future as a government and a society,” he said.

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