Edelstein: Palestinians should halt building as well

Public diplomacy minister to tell PM West Bank freeze should be mutual.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
August 27, 2010 03:39
1 minute read.
Men building

Men building 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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If the Palestinians demand the continuation of the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria beyond the 10-month moratorium, Israel should insist that the freeze be reciprocated, Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Thursday.

Edelstein, a Neveh Daniel resident who is the only Likud minister who lives in the West Bank, intends to tell Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Sunday’s Likud ministerial meeting that he should demand a Palestinian construction freeze in his negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that are set to begin in Washington next week.

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“The game needs to be played evenly,” Edelstein said. “I suggest that if we face an approach saying that we must continue to stop construction or we would undermine the negotiations, then we should say that the freeze should be imposed on both Israel and the Palestinians.”

Edelstein said that since no one knows what the outcome of the negotiations will be or where the two sides would decide on a border, fair solutions would be for neither side to build, or for both sides to build.

Israeli officials were quoted by The Associated Press on Monday saying that the government was engaged in quiet talks with the United States in search of a “creative” solution that would allow at least limited construction after the moratorium ends on September 26.

While attention has been devoted to Vice Premier Dan Meridor’s idea to restart construction only in the settlement blocs, Edelstein’s idea could furnish another possible solution.

Netanyahu’s associates responded that the press was exaggerating the magnitude of the settlement-freeze issue. They said he was busy preparing for much bigger issues that will be on the table once the negotiations begin. “The view of Netanyahu is that future of the settlements will only be decided in a final-status agreement,” a source close to him said. “I don’t think he is too worried about Palestinian building either.”

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