'Netanyahu will not stop West Bank building for continuation of peace talks'

Coalition chairman Levin says there is a solid bloc of MKs in the government determined to preserve settlements.

February 21, 2014 11:38
2 minute read.
West Bank settlement of Maale Efrayim in the Jordan Valley.

West Bank settlement of Maale Efrayim in the Jordan Valley.. (photo credit: REUTERS/ Baz Ratner)

The right wing MKs in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition are concerned over rumors that Israel will be asked to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank as part of the continued peace talks with the Palestinians. But Coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) said Friday, that he did not think  Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would impose such a building freeze.

In the wake of a report that US of Secretary of State John Kerry's framework proposal for the continuation of peace talks with the Palestinians calls for a freeze, Levin was one of 21 MKs from the Land of Israel caucus in the Knesset who signed a letter to Netanyahu stating the position that any cessation of building in Israel would be unacceptable.

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Levin told Israel Radio on Friday that the letter was meant to "strengthen the prime minister's policy."

The coalition chairman said that there was a "solid bloc of MKs in the Knesset that were determined to preserve the settlement enterprise." He added that only when it is clear to the whole world that Israel is not prepared to give up settlements will it be possible to reach a peace deal.

The letter that the Land of Israel Caucus sent Netanyahu on Thursday,  warned that any freezing of settlement construction in the West Bank of any kind would be seen by the caucus as crossing a red line.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador Dan Shapiro said Friday that Washington was aware of elements in Israel that were against the idea of a two state solution. In an interview with Israel Radio the ambassador said that the US had always held that the Palestinians should recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jews and he said he expected such recognition to be part of Kerry's framework principles for the continuation of the peace talks.

Netanyahu has said that Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state would be an essential component of a peace deal.

Shapiro said that recognizing Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people is one of the ways to know that the conflict has come to an end.

On the Jewish settler issue in the West Bank, the ambassador said that the future of settlers who remain on the Palestinian side of a future border between the two decides would have to be dealt with. 

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