dichter _wrong dimensions.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The 10-month West Bank building freeze was a critical mistake, but having made
it, Israel has no choice but to continue onward to a second – but final –
freeze, Kadima MKs told The Jerusalem Post over the weekend.
RELATED:PM to meet balking Likud members on new freezeSettlers go on strike, prepare for mass demonstration
on the American proposal for a 90-day building moratorium, Kadima MK Yohanan
Plesner argued that under a Kadima government, West Bank building would have
continued; while MK Avi Dichter complained that the freeze kept key issues, such
as Gaza, off the table.
“The total freeze for 10 months was a serious
mistake,” said Dichter. “It was clear that it would come to an end, and that in
those 10 months nothing dramatic could happen between Israel and the
Palestinians – leaving us in the same situation as at the
“[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu made a second mistake
when he didn’t agree to the American request to extend a two-month freeze
immediately on September 26, and insist that it was the last freeze. If he had,
we’d be one week away from the end, rather than in our current
Dichter said the “main problem is that the topic of the freeze
has become the central topic of discussion, rather than talks between us and the
The Palestinians stand on the side and watch this side
issue make it harder for Israel on the diplomatic front.”
With the freeze
as the central topic, Dichter complained, “our main problem is now with the
Americans. If the freeze wasn’t on the table, our main problem would be with the
The former internal security minister said that Israel is
now in a position in which it has no choice but to pursue an additional freeze –
but stressed that Israel must then demand an end to the moratoriums.
condition of the freeze must be that we bury this issue once and for all. Just
as Israel doesn’t ask the Palestinians to stop shooting rockets in Gaza before
we hold talks, we need to tell the Palestinians to leave the issue of
settlements to us.
We have taken action on it before – when we decided to
evacuate settlements; we have proven that we can and will, and on a large scale.
We must take this topic off the agenda.
The whole process between us and
the Palestinians cannot be solely about the freeze.”
Dichter argued that,
eventually, Netanyahu will need to shuffle his coalition in order to reach any
development on the diplomatic front.
“With such vast differences between
the Left and the Right of his government, Netanyahu’s hands will be tied until
he makes changes,” Dichter promised, hinting that Kadima could still be a viable
partner to pursue a peace settlement with the Palestinians.
echoed Dichter’s opinion, saying that “Kadima consistently has been
unenthusiastic about the moratorium, and that is still the case.”
Netanyahu’s great mistake, said Plesner, was in agreeing to freeze building
indiscriminately, without differentiating between settlement blocs and isolated
“If Netanyahu had been brave enough to freeze building in
isolated settlements, we would have been able to maintain the oral commitments
that the Kadima government received from the Americans permitting building in
east Jerusalem and in the settlement blocs,” Plesner complained.
foster trust between Israel and the Americans, we have to consider this offer,
on condition Netanyahu uses those 90 days to restore the understandings that
were already in place,” he continued.
“If he doesn’t use them to restore
the differentiation between settlement blocs and isolated settlements, we will
find ourselves in the same position again, because nobody thinks that Netanayhu
will reach a final-status agreement in 90 days. And if there isn’t a
final-status agreement at the end of those 90 days, we will be asked to do
another freeze, and another one.”
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