Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel, who heads one of the larger West Bank
settlement blocs, had four words of advice for Prime Minister Netanyahu: ‘stop
talking, start building.”
Kashriel came to the Knesset on Monday already
angered by Netanyahu’s silent freeze of the settlement blocs, and the words he
heard there only made him more upset.
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“I’m very angry,” said Kashriel,
who is a long-time Likud Central Committee member.
Likud politicians on
Tuesday started to place a positive right-wing spin
on Netanyahu’s Knesset
speech, which hinted at the possibility that Israel could relinquish part of the
West Bank not included in the settlement blocs.
Although former prime
minister Ehud Olmert spoke candidly of this option when he was in office, Monday
night marked the first time that Netanyahu had hinted at it or used the concept
of settlement blocs in a public speech.
Likud politicians on Tuesday,
including Deputy Premier Moshe Ya’alon, explained that Netanyahu was presenting
consensus opinion, and not his own view.
Kashriel was not swayed by any
of the political back-tracking. As the head of the third largest settlement
city, he has seen construction in his city slow to trickle under Netanyahu – so
he believes that the prime minister has done almost nothing to support the
“I’m embarrassed to say it, but it was easier to build
in the settlements under a Labor government than under a right-wing Likud one,”
At present, he said, Ma’aleh Adumim is almost out of
construction permits. In 2010 – between the lack of permits and the temporary
moratorium on new construction – work was begun on only 39 new homes in his
city. It’s the lowest number of housing starts in more than 15 years.
addition, Kashriel said, his city was not included in the housing-reform plan,
and its residents no longer receive a discount on mortgages.
“I asked him
[Netanyahu] about it at Monday’s Knesset faction meeting and he said, ‘I’ll
check it out.’ What does he need to know?,” Kashriel asked.
that two years ago, in Netanyahu’s June 2009 Bar Ilan speech, Netanyahu affirmed
the settlers’ right to build, and then turned around and declared a 10-month
“We need new building to survive, and not words,” Kashriel
Last night, when Netanyahu spoke of “painful concessions,” Kashriel
warned, he was using a code phrase for future evacuations.
Ron Nachman said that Netanyahu’s words to the Knesset ran counter to those he
uttered after two Palestinians in March stabbed to death five members of the
Fogel family in the Itamar settlement, which is located outside the settlement
At the time, Nachman said, Netanyahu stated: “They kill and we
On Tuesday, Nachman called on Netanyahu to stay true to his
Naftali Bennett, who is the Director- General of the Council of
Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip said that this is the
time for Netanyahu to issue an ultimatum to the Palestinians and not offer
He should warn that if the Palestinians continue to pursue
unilateral statehood, Israel will annex the portion of the West Bank, known as
Area C, which it controls and where its Jewish population lives.
no demographic issue, because the annexation plan would include 300,000 Jews and
10,000 Palestinians, Bennett said.
He added that it was gaining
“It’s time for Israel to take the initiative and pursue its own
unilateral approach,” he said.
Council Chairman Dani Dayan said that
Netanyahu should go one step further and declare that he no longer was under any
obligation to recognize a Palestinian state in light of the reconciliation
between Fatah and Hamas and the political warfare that the Palestinians were
waging against Israel.
Israeli diplomacy has erred by trying to appease
the international community and the Palestinians, Dayan said.
Kashriel, Dayan took Netanyahu’s statement about settlement blocs very
seriously; whether the threat that underlined his words came to fruition or
“When a prime minister makes a statement, it is a political fact
that leaves its mark on the political and diplomatic reality. We cannot
underestimate the impact of a prime minister’s words,” he said.
Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Lahiani said that he did not fear the
implication in Netanyahu’s Knesset speech Monday that Israel would cede the
settlements in his region.
It’s an accepted military principle in Israel
that it would be dangerous to cede the Jordan Valley – particularly at time of
regional upheavals when it is unclear what the future governmental make-up would
be of any country that borders Israel,” he said.
The leader of a country
often has to say certain things, so to know what is really going on, Lahiani
said. “It is important to also listen to the people next to him. They say what
he can not,” Lahiani said.
He added that he has a tape recording of
Netanyahu from 10 years ago stating that the Jordan Valley would always remain
under Israeli sovereignty.
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