Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday promised to continue strengthening the settlement enterprise in the West Bank, kicking off his Likud-Beytenu campaign ahead of national elections on January 22.

"We did a lot to strengthen the settlements [in the past four years], and in the next four years we'll continue to do a lot to strengthen the settlements," he said at the campaign rally.

Netanyahu commented that while Israel is reaching out to the Palestinians in order to achieve a true and mutual peace agreement, his party will continue to safeguard the security interests of the people of Israel "despite international pressure."

Israel took a pounding overseas last week for announcements of construction activity beyond the Green Line. The criticism didn't stop the Interior Ministry’s Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee from giving their final approval Monday night to around 1,200 apartments in the neighborhood of Gilo, which is over the 1967 Green Line.

Turning to domestic issues, Netanyahu committed himself to lowering housing prices if he is re-elected. In order to achieve this, Likud-Beytenu aims to return the Ministry of Housing and Construction and the Israel Land Administration back to the party's hands, the prime minister said.

The
ministry "should not be in one sector's hands, it should serve all of the citizens of Israel," he said of the ministry currently run by Ariel Attias (Shas).

The prime minister also discussed the government's work to put the Iranian threat on top of the international agenda, and promised to continue working to halt Tehran's illicit nuclear program.

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