Ya’alon: Settlement evacuations not part of new talks with Palestinians

Defense Minister says renewed negotiations “are not dealing with the evacuation of [West Bank] settlements.”

Yesha Council leader Avi Ro'eh 370 (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Yesha Council leader Avi Ro'eh 370
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
The renewed Israeli Palestinian negotiations “are not dealing with the evacuation of [West Bank] settlements,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Tuesday evening at a Rosh Hashana toast in Samaria with settler leaders.

The Samaria Regional Council relayed his words to the media. According to the council, Ya’alon questioned the assumption that in exchange for the word peace, Israel would relinquish territory.“In the Middle East, we need to talk about interests and not signed agreements,” he said. He added that the settlements in Judea and Samaria were important to the home-front defense of the nation and therefore needed to be strengthened and developed.Meanwhile Tuesday, Avi Ro’eh, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, stated that renewed peace talks could only lead to a Palestinian state with temporary borders and would not end in a final-status agreement.“Our fear is of an interim agreement under American pressure whose central points will be Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state with temporary borders, and a decision to hand over sections of Area C to the Palestinians,” Ro’eh said on Tuesday in a rare press conference.“This can only harm Israel,” he contended. “It won’t improve our standing in Europe or in other areas.”He was standing in the newly inaugurated visitor center at the biblical archeological tourist site on the edge of the Shiloh settlement, in the West Bank’s Binyamin region. The round, glasspaned room in which he spoke gave a panoramic view of the West Bank hills with their olive trees and terraced stone walls.Ro’eh accused the United States of pushing for renewed talks so it could chalk up one success in a region where it had suffered one failure after another.“We saw how [US President Barack Obama] retreated from attacking Syria, but is pressing Israel to come to an agreement with the Palestinians that neither side wants – not the Israelis and not the Palestinians,” he said.“There won’t be a final status agreement, because the Palestinians do not know how to give, only to take,” he went on, declaring that “two states for two peoples won’t happen here.”He added that what was needed instead was a process that would enable Israelis and Palestinians to have good relations.In light of what is happening in other countries in the region, he said, “the Palestinians here are living in Eden.”Israel takes care of their security, and there is local autonomy over 90 percent of their daily lives, he pointed out.He expressed hope that in the coming year, the building of new homes for Judea and Samaria residents would continue.Under Ya’alon, the ministry has been supportive of building projects for the settlements and has helped to advance them, he added.With respect to the Amona outpost, which is under threat of demolition and against which there is a case in both the High Court of Justice and the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, Ro’eh said he believed the community would not be destroyed.He explained that in one way or another, the community would eventually receive authorization.In the worst-case scenario, he said, homes would be moved from private Palestinian property to purchased lots, so the community could remain on its hilltop.“The settlement enterprise won’t rise and fall on the issue of Amona,” said Ro’eh, even though he understood the pain of the families whose homes might be destroyed by a court order.He said he intended to respect the final will of the court.The best option in cases such as Amona is to compensate Palestinians on whose property Jewish homes have been built, he said.He noted that in the case of the Migron outpost, the Jewish homes on private Palestinian property had been destroyed last year, but Palestinians were still unable to access their property.Ro’eh also condemned incidents of settler violence against Palestinians and the IDF.