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(photo credit: GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu intends to take concrete steps to strengthen the Jewish settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria after the 10-month construction moratorium, his associates said Wednesday.
Netanyahu's plans were not connected to a decision to declare part of the West Bank, excluding the settlement blocs, as priority regions, as was announced yesterday.
Sources close to the prime minister said that rather than protest against a government decision that had already been made and was therefore already a lost cause, the settlers who demonstrated Wednesday should be focusing their efforts on persuading the world to allow Israel to keep all the settlement blocs in an eventual final-status agreement with the Palestinians.
"We are in a constant struggle over the map of Israel," Netanyahu told the Likud faction at the Knesset on Wednesday.
Netanyahu promised Ma'aleh Adumim mayor Benny Kashriel, who participated in the meeting, that there were better days ahead for his community. The prime minister said that he would come to Ma'aleh Adumim, as well as Gush Etzion and Ariel, to plant trees during the Tu Bishvat holiday in January.
Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely responded by telling Netanyahu that she would feel better if he came to Ma'aleh Adumim to build a house there instead.
MK Danny Danon failed to persuade Netanyahu to hold a vote on the moratorium in the faction or in the December 29 Likud central committee meeting.
"It cannot be that on such a fundamental matter of principle, where we are defying what we told our voters, we don't even have a vote in the faction," Danon told Netanyahu.
The prime minister responded by saying that "we took a vote at the executive level," meaning the security cabinet, and that the Likud faction did indeed discuss the matter while Danon was abroad.
No Likud faction members backed Danon against Netanyahu.
Netanyahu said during the meeting that he would end it early "in order to allow faction members to go to the demonstration against me."
Danon responded to Netanyahu, "We're demonstrating against the decision and not against you. If you change your decision, we will demonstrate in favor of you."