In a move likely to spark Palestinian anger and international condemnation,
Israel intends to announce plans for construction beyond the Green Line next
week, soon after the release of another group of Palestinian prisoners,
government officials said Wednesday night.
The officials would not say
where the planned building would take place or how many units would be
Under the agreements Israel reached with the US and the
Palestinian Authority in July, which enabled the current round of negotiations,
the government is scheduled to release on Sunday a third batch of 26 Palestinian
terrorists who were convicted of attacks before the 1993 Oslo Accords. Israel
has agreed to release a total of 104 prisoners by the end of the nine-month
negotiating period, and has already freed half that number.
to announce plans for more construction beyond the Green Line comes despite US
and European appeals not to do so, and warnings that such a move could torpedo
Israel’s position is that it made no commitment in July to
freeze settlement construction, and that both the US and the Palestinians were
aware that construction would continue.
announcements accompanied both previous prisoner releases – a move widely viewed
as a way to make the unpopular release of the convicted terrorists more
palatable to the right-wing elements inside the coalition.
Most – but not
all – of the units announced then were for Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem
beyond the 1967 lines, and for communities inside the large settlement
Announcing the construction plans, one official said, did not in
any way violate the agreement that had led to the renewal of the talks with the
Palestinians. He said Israel was “strictly abiding by” that
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon addressed the upcoming prisoner
release and the settlement construction during a tour of a Givati Brigade drill
in the Binyamin region, saying that “we are not happy about releasing
“I’ve said in the past that releasing prisoners stems from
wider considerations. We are [facing] the third release,” he said, “and
we’ll hold talks in the right places to decide whether and whom to release. As
to the construction, I think it is our right to build, and certainly according
to the understandings and agreements we have with the
Ya’alon, along with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu,
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and
Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri – who is a former head of the
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) – make up the ministerial committee that in
the coming days will draw up the list of prisoners to be
Addressing rising Palestinian violence in the West Bank,
Ya’alon said the attacks were not the work of organized groups, but of
individual attackers, like the man who stabbed policeman Rami Ravid next to the
Highway 60 junction earlier this week.
“We’ll know how to deal with this,
whether by boosting forces [in the West Bank] or by getting to every terrorist
and holding him to account,” he stated.
The defense minister said
Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic talks were sparking incitement. Since the talks
began at the end of July, six Israelis have been killed in terrorist attacks,
compared to only one terror fatality from January through July. He said it was
clear these attacks “are the results of incitement,” and he blamed the
Palestinian Authority for incitement to hatred against Israel.
spokesman Mark Regev was even more blunt, saying “the terrorist attacks against
Israelis over the last few days are a direct result of the incitement and hatred
propagated in Palestinian schools and media.”
He said Israel was
“disappointed that so far [PA] President [Mahmoud] Abbas has not condemned these
acts of terrorism as one would expect from a partner in peace talks.”