Netanyahu plants a tree at Kfar Etzion, Sunday.
(photo credit: GPO)
The settlements blocs of Ariel, Ma'aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion are an indisputable part of Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
He spoke in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, part of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, where he planted a tree in honor of the upcoming Tu B'Shvat holiday.
He was then scheduled to head to the Ma'aleh Adumim to plant another tree. Netanyahu said he will also plant a tree in the Ariel settlement sometime in the next few days.
With these trees, Netanyahu said he wanted to "send a clear message that we will stay here. We are planning and we are building."
He added that these areas are an "indisputable part of Israel forever. This is an idea that is accepted by the majority of Israelis" and is part of international agreements, Netanyahu said.
It was his first visit to West Bank settlements since he took office at the end of last March.
His words come in the midst of a 10-month moratorium on new settlement construction, a move that has sown seeds of doubt in the minds of many settlers regarding his commitment to the settlement movement.
Government sources, while not willing to say that the prime minister's selection of the locales to plant trees was meant as a political message, added that it was clear he did not think Israel could return to the pre-1967 lines, because he did not think they were defensible.
Likewise, Netanyahu was planting trees in areas he believed would always stay within the state, and which were very much part of the national consensus.Herb Keinon contributed to this report.