Netanyahu says settlements unlikely to be dismantled if elected to fourth term

Netanyahu says withdrawing settlers at the moment is not practical.

Netanyahu at cabinet meeting (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Netanyahu at cabinet meeting
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday it was unlikely that he would withdraw from any part of the West Bank if elected to a fourth term in the March 17 election.
In an interview with Channel 2, Netanyahu said he still supported the creation of a Palestinian state and that his 2009 Bar-Ilan University diplomatic speech in which he endorsed the two-state solution was still his policy, but that the Palestinians had made it meaningless with their actions.
“I don’t think withdrawing settlers is practical at the moment,” he said. “I don’t think it will happen.”
Netanyahu said he could not deny that he had differences with US President Barack Obama’s administration on diplomatic issues, but that security and intelligence ties were very strong and that there was record support for Israel among US citizens.
Netanyahu downplayed reports of disputes with Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, who will be responsible for deciding who forms the next government.
“I did not fight with Rivlin,” he said. “Our relations are terrific.”
Netanyahu said he would consider debates with opposition leader Isaac Herzog after not permitting a debate since the 1999 election.
He joked that he did not know whether he would have to debate Herzog or his ally, Hatnua head Tzipi Livni.
“I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but I will consider it.”
The prime minister said his predecessor Ehud Olmert was to blame for skyrocketing housing prices, indicating that under the previous administration, building and construction plans came to a halt in the Center and the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, which caused real-estate prices to jump.
Asked by his interviewers if he bears any responsibility for the housing crisis, Netanyahu mentioned as a failure his inability “to rally the public” and translate that support “into party mandates.”
After the 2013 elections, Likud was no longer a large party, the premier lamented, thus paving the way for smaller factions to make up the now-dissolved government.
This, Netanyahu said, “forced” him to bring in Yesh Atid and give Lapid the Finance portfolio.
Responding to Netanyahu’s comments, the Labor Party said that “after 12 years as prime minister and finance minister before that all Netanyahu can do is blame Olmert for his own failures on the housing issue.
Soon he will blame [former prime minister] Golda Meir for the security situation and [former prime minister] Menachem Begin for the cost of living.”
Leadership is not built by running obsessively from decision making or by acting like a crybaby, the Labor campaign said.
Reacting to Netanyahu’s plan to change the electoral system, Herzog said he might as well pass a bill requiring himself to remain in the prime minister’s residence forever.
Earlier Tuesday, Hatnua MK Amram Mitzna attacked Livni for forcing him out of politics, calling her a dictator. In an interview with the Knesset Channel, he said his forthcoming retirement had not been voluntary and will occur only because Livni decided to take just MK Amir Peretz from Hatnua with her to Labor.
Meanwhile, Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg- Ikar turned down an offer from Netanyahu to receive the 11th slot on the Likud list. She wrote on Facebook that she was flattered by the offer, but that she had decided to remain in Netanya.
Netanyahu is still looking for a well-known woman to field as a candidate.