Israel will not declare a new settlement freeze to get the Palestinians to agree
to the Quartet’s formula for a renewal of talks, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu told The Jerusalem Post
“We already gave at the
office,” Netanyahu said, referring to the 10- month settlement freeze he
initiated in November 2008 that did not succeed in enticing the Palestinians
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Netanyahu, in a Rosh Hashana interview with the Post
just hours after returning from his five-day trip to the US, where he battled
against the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN – said that by coming back to
the issue of the settlement freeze, the Palestinians were indicating that they
didn’t really want to negotiate.
“It is a pretext they use again and
again, but I think a lot of people see it as a ruse to avoid direct
negotiations,” he said.
Netanyahu said he had no intention of intervening
with the Interior Ministry’s District Planning Committee that is scheduled to
meet Tuesday to discuss the construction of more than 700 housing units in
Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood, located over the Green Line, even though the
Quartet – in its statement Friday – called on “the parties to refrain from
provocative actions if negotiations are to be effective,” a veiled reference to
construction beyond the pre-1967 lines.
“I don’t think there is anything
new,” Netanyahu said of the plan.
“We plan in Jerusalem. We build in
Jerusalem. Period. The same way Israeli governments have been doing for years –
since the end of the 1967 war.
“We build in Jewish neighborhoods, the
Arabs build in Arab neighborhoods – that is the way the life of this city goes
on and develops for its Jewish and non- Jewish residents
Netanyahu said Americans “know this; they have followed this a
long time. There is really nothing new.”
Responding to criticism that his
speech Friday to the UN – while an articulate explanation of Israel’s position
and fears – did not provide any hope for solving the conflict, Netanyahu said,
“The hope we have is standing on the principles that served us well, not only
through the life of the state, but even through the whole course of Zionism.
Throughout our history.”
“You can’t build hope on the foundation of
lies,” he continued, adding that the Palestinians’ inability to utter the words
“the Jewish people” or “the Jewish state” is not something that can be glossed
“There is a problem there, and you can’t build hope by shutting
your eyes and saying it doesn’t matter,” Netanyahu said.
“Of course it
matters – this is what this conflict is all about. It is not about the
settlements; it is about the Jewish state. And it must be said over and over
The full interview with Netanyahu will appear in Wednesday’s