It’s unrealistic to believe that a comprehensive final-status agreement can be
reached with the Palestinians at this time, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein
(Likud) said on Tuesday as he visited eight West Bank settlements in the Samaria
region, including isolated ones.
“I cannot hide my views. I am not sure
that under the present circumstances the attempt to reach a comprehensive
agreement is realistic,” he said.
“We all know the reality. The
maximum Israel is willing to give is less than the minimum that the Palestinians
will accept,” he said.
Edelstein opened his visit by stopping at two
elementary schools in northern Samaria, a regional secular elementary school and
a religious school in the Tal Menashe settlement.
He was one of a number
of politicians and rabbinical leaders who chose the opening day of school to
make a statement about the importance of Judea and Samaria to the State of
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau visited a school in the Efrat
settlement in the Gush Etzion region. Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett
(Bayit Yehudi) visited a yeshiva in the Otniel settlement in Har Hebron and
Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) was in the Ma’aleh Adumim
As he stood at the construction site of a new school in Tal
Menashe, Edelstein said: “I hope we will continue to live here, to build, to
educate and to develop. And that we will continue our relations with our
neighbors to work together and not to destroy communities.”
Regional Council head Gershon Mesika, who accompanied Edelstein, said: “We are
telling [US Secretary of State] John Kerry, you can speak and speak, and we will
build and build.”
Edelstein told The Jerusalem Post that he deliberately
chose places to visit on the first day of school so as to deliver messages to
He began in the Israeli Arab town of Abu Gosh to take a
stand against price-tag attacks, in which vandals have deliberately targeted the
property of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank.
wanted to show the residents of Abu Gosh that I was with them,” he
Edelstein said he went to northern Samaria to help allay fears its
residents might have about the peace process and to assure them that they were
important to him and the government.
“I see it as my job as Knesset
speaker to be with those who for this reason or that feel that something has
gone wrong,” Edelstein said.
Among the settlements he visited were those
outside of the blocs.
“People there have a very uneasy feeling,” he said.
“I wanted to give them a feeling that I care about them, that they are equal
citizens and not some kind of obstacle to peace.”
Edelstein added that he
was strengthened by the growth of these communities, and that he was against any
evacuation of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
“I hope we learned
lessons from the irresponsible and unnecessary unilateral withdrawal [in 2005
from Gaza and four settlements in northern Samaria],”Edelstein said.
Ma’aleh Adumim Sa’ar said, “We will continue to build in Jewish neighborhoods of
east Jerusalem and in the settlements of Judea and Samaria even during the
negotiations with the Palestinians.”