PM: Ariel is the 'capital of Samaria'

"We are continuing to build," Netanyahu vows after planting tree in West Bank.

Netanyahu plants a tree at Kfar Etzion, Sunday (photo credit: GPO)
Netanyahu plants a tree at Kfar Etzion, Sunday
(photo credit: GPO)
Arielis the "capital of Samaria" and an "indisputable" part of Israel,pledged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday afternoon justafter he planted a tree in the fourth largest settlement city in theWest Bank.

Themove comes in the midst of stalled peace talk with the Palestinians whohave insisted they will not resume negotiations with Israel until itstops building in settlements.

Israelhas imposed a 10-month moratorium on new settlement construction. Butthis week, in honor of the Tu B'Shvat holiday which celebrates the newyear for trees, Netanyahu visited settlements for the first time sincehe took office late last March.

OnSunday, he planted a tree in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc in KfarEtzion and in the settlement city of Ma'ale Adumim. On Friday, he cameto Ariel accompanied by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Knesset SpeakerReuven Rivlin and National Security Adviser Uzi Arad as well as LikudMKs Danny Danon, Ophir Akunis and Tzipi Hotovely.

"Everyonewho understands the geography of Israel know how important Ariel is. Itis the heart of our country.  We are here where are forefathers were,and we will stay here," said Netanyahu who added that the area wasimportant from a both from a security and historic point of view, saidNetanyahu.

Hepromised Ariel that it could complete a cultural center in the city tosupport its growing intellectual life that is fed by the ArielUniversity Center of Samaria that is also located in that city.

He said that some of Israel's Arab neighbors had made peace with the Jewish state and that he hoped others would follow suit.

"We want to co-exist with our neighbors, but we can't stop our lives here," Netanyahu said.

"Wewill continue to build. I came here after I was in Ma'ale Adumim and inGush Etzion where we planted trees. We said in a clear way that we willstay in these areas in any future final status agreement with thePalestinians. We need to help it develop," said Netanyahu. 

"Theseareas will be an integral part of Israel and I say the same thing todayin Ariel, the capital of Samaria," said Netanyahu.

Aspart of the ceremony for Netanyahu in Ariel, he was joined on the stageby Adva Anter 15, of Ariel who noted that both she and the primeminister came from bereaved families.

Netanyahu,she said, had lost his brother Yoni who was killed when he lead an IDFmission to the Entebee airport in in 1976 to rescue hostages. She losttwo of her brothers in the 2002 terror attack against an Israeli hotelin Kenya.

"Iam asking God to give you the strength and the ability to ensure ourfuture here in Ariel, that like the tree you planted, our roots will behere in Ariel forever," she said.

Netanyahusaid that her story showed the difference between and their enemies,"They have come to destroy and we have come to build. May you continueto sprout roots here in the land," he said.

Netanyahusaid that her story showed the difference between and their enemies,"They have come to destroy and we have come to build. May you continueto sprout roots here in the land," he said.