Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon vowed on Thursday evening that settlement construction will resume when the moratorium on housing starts expires on September 26.

“We will renew building after the moratorium ends,” he told a small crowd of settlers who had gathered to hear him speak at a celebration to mark the completion of a new neighborhood for 12 families in the Maon settlement in the South Hebron Hills.

In a nod to the Palestinians, Ya’alon said, “We do not want to rule our neighbors. But we will not evacuate settlements. We will not move Jews. We will not sacrifice Jews from any place in Israel.”

He added that the government would reject any situation in which Jews are forbidden to live in certain areas of the country, while Arabs can live anywhere in Israel.

“The settlements have never been a stumbling block to peace. The absence of that peace is for reasons that are not connected to us,” Ya’alon said. “Our neighbors do not recognize the right of Jews to their land. They do not recognize the right of Israel to exist as a national homeland for the Jewish people.”

It was this refusal to recognize the Jewish nature of the State of Israel that had been a stumbling block to peace since the dawn of Zionism, he said.

Dani Dayan, chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, called on the government to renew settlement construction when the moratorium ends.

“Don’t be ashamed of [building],” he said.

“Do it proudly and openly. Use it as a leverage to renew the Zionist spirit in the country,” Dayan said.

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