|Netanyahu 311 reuters.(Photo by: Reuters)|
PM visits Itamar: 'They shoot, we build'
By HERB KEINON
Netanyahu goes to homes of Fogel parents to give condolences; promises those responsible for terror attack will be found.
The terrorists shoot, and we build, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the
parents of Ehud and Ruth Fogel on Sunday night during a shiva call, hours after
the government’s settlement committee decided to approve the building of 400
-500 housing units in large settlement blocks.
“They say Eretz Yisrael is
acquired through pain and suffering,” Netanyahu told the grieving parents, “but
we didn’t think the pain and suffering would be so great. This heinous act has
led all of us to say, ‘Enough.’ The security services are doing everything they
can to find the murders, and we will find the criminals. They are not people,
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Even as Netanyahu and the government devoted most of the
cabinet’s discussion on Sunday to the attack and hearing briefings from Chief of
General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and the deputy head of the Shin Bet (Israel
Security Agency), the decision to approve a few hundred houses in the settlement
blocs became the major story in the international media.
According to a
statement put out by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministerial Committee on
Settlements – which includes the prime minister, Defense Minister Ehud Barak,
Home Front Minister Matan Vilna’i, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon and
Ministerwithout- Portfolio Bennie Begin – decided on Saturday night to a approve
a few hundred housing units in Gush Etzion, Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel and Modi’in
Illit. The statement termed this “measured building” of a few hundred units
inside the settlement blocs.
The units approved are among projects that
the government stopped in various stages of planning in efforts to get the
Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, and reportedly include 48 units
in Gush Etzion, 300 in Modi’in Illit and fewer than 100 each in Ariel and
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said the
announcement did not come as a surprise to Washington. Robert Serry, the UN’s
Middle East envoy, was quoted as having condemned the move.
Minister Eli Yishai said in the cabinet meeting that this number was not
enough, and that there should be at least 5,000 units – 1,000 for
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said that he was pleased
with the move, and hopes that “there will be other decisions like this in the
The decision met with mixed response in the settlements. Danny
Dayan, the head of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the
Gaza Strip, termed the decision a “small step in the right direction,” but that
the government should approve further projects and build a new neighborhood in
Itamar as a memorial for the victims.
Dayan said this was the first time
the Netanyahu government approved new homes, and it was “deeply troubling that
it requires the murder of children in the arms of their parents” for this to
Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel reportedly said it was wrong
to connect the permits to the murders, and that building in the settlement blocs
did not need to be done under the cover of murdered Israelis.
night, in a public statement after the attack, Netanyahu said, “Terrorism will
not determine the settlement map; we will.”
Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark
Regev said there was no contradiction between the announcement to build in the
settlement blocs and the prime minister’s stated desire to move forward with the
“All of this is taking place inside the large
settlements,” he said. “In every peace plan that has been put on the table in
the last 18 years, the large settlement blocs remain a part of Israel in the
During the cabinet meeting, the attack on Itamar
turned into a discussion of the price to be paid for the release of kidnapped
soldier Gilad Schalit when Vice Premier and Regional Development Minister Silvan
Shalom wondered aloud whether, if and when the murderers of the Fogels are
captured, they will be on the top of the list Hamas will demand for Schalit’s
Netanyahu, according to government officials, launched into a
explanation of the government’s policy that “dangerous” prisoners will not be
released from prison and allowed back into Judea and Samaria because that – as
has been the case in the past when Palestinians terrorists were released in
prisoner exchanges – would lead to additional attacks in the West Bank, as well
as inside the Green Line.