Bennett: Bayit Yehudi opposition to '67 lines paid off

Liberman says negotiations important, but cautions that the conflict is unresolvable in the coming years, "so we have to manage it."

Bennett pointing 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Bennett pointing 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Likud Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi politicians warned against releasing prisoners and freezing settlement construction Saturday night, with most waiting until after Shabbat to respond to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Friday-night announcement that peace talks will be renewed.
Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett said his party’s standing up for its principles – that it will not sit in a government that will negotiate on pre-’67 lines – proved itself.
“When we insist, we can hold negotiations without preconditions, without a freeze, and certainly without the bizarre demand to base them on ’67 lines,” he said. “As negotiations open, we will make sure to continue regular life and construction in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem.”
According to Bennett, “history taught us that construction brings life and evacuating settlements brings terror.”
The economy and trade minister also said he will not agree that the European Union take part in the negotiations, since their directive against funding in the West Bank proved that they are not an unbiased party.
“We are moving forward cautiously and with open eyes; we are not naïve,” he concluded.
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avigdor Liberman (Likud Beytenu) called for negotiations to take place “with eyes wide open and without delusions.”
“It’s important to hold negotiations, and it is even more important for those negotiations to take place based on reality and not fantasy. I said several times that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is unresolvable, at least not in the coming years, so we have to manage it,” Liberman wrote in a long Facebook post.
The Yisrael Beytenu leader said talks cannot be based on recognition of pre-1967 lines, quoting former foreign minister Abba Eban who called them “Auschwitz borders,” and that Israel must clarify from the get-go that there will not be a building freeze in Jerusalem or Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.
Liberman suggested telling Kerry how many homes are already “in the pipeline” in those areas.
Liberman added that what is possible at the moment is a long-term interim agreement based on security and economic cooperation, and that issues of borders and Jerusalem should be postponed to much later.
Finally, he pointed out that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas does not represent Gaza and said “it is unclear if his government in Judea and Samaria is legally legitimate, since elections that were meant to take place over three years ago in the PA were postponed again and again.”
“It’s clear that Abbas cannot sign an agreement that the conflict will end or give up on the right of return,” Liberman explained.
“I fully trust Netanyahu, who knows so well the dangers of returning to the 1967 borders,” Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon stated.
Still, Danon said “we must not repeat the injustice of the past and uproot thousands of Jews from their homes. I also hope that we learn from previous mistakes regarding the release of prisoners with blood on their hands.
These murderers must not be released as an ‘act of good will’ or as a prize for returning to the negotiating table.”
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel warned against Netanyahu giving in to Palestinian preconditions for talks.
“If reports of agreement to preconditions are true, this is a terrible mistake that goes along with the agreement to release prisoners who endanger Israel’s security,” Ariel said.
The Bayit Yehudi minister said he “will not help in any way such an immoral and non- Jewish act that will allow freezing construction in Jerusalem and in settlements.”
“I will use my authority as housing minister to increase the supply of housing in places that are in demand,” he added.
Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud Beytenu) spoke out against releasing prisoners, saying it is a mistake to give the Palestinians “gifts” before or during negotiations.
“Terrorists with blood on their hands cannot be let free. They must complete their sentence for murdering innocent Jews. I will adamantly oppose this move and call for the prime minister to stop making gestures toward the Palestinians, because every gesture Israel gives led to more and more terror,” she stated.
The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip plan to hold an emergency meeting late Sunday afternoon to formulate a response to the renewed talks.
Former council head Danny Dayan expressed doubts that any actual negotiations will take place, tweeting: “My impression is there is no agreement to resume substantive talks. Only to face-save Kerry. Talks about the talks will continue in [Washington], DC.”
He added his advice to Likud Beytenu and Bayit Yehudi members: “Your working assumption [is] Israel gave up on all issues. Let the prime minister prove you wrong.”Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.