Eitan: Build in major blocs, not isolated W. Bank areas

Government services minister also appears to attack Lieberman, whom he says has achieved nothing in office, needs to find different job.

MICHAEL EITAN 58 (photo credit: Marc Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
(photo credit: Marc Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Government Services Minister Michael Eitan (Likud) on Tuesday called for a halt to building in isolated settlements and for the continued construction in settlement blocs such as Ariel.
He also appeared to attack Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Beiteinu), whom he said had achieved nothing in office and should long ago have understood that he needs to find a different job.
“We have to advance a settlement policy that is compatible with a policy of territorial compromise: stop building in areas [of the West Bank] that we will have to relinquish and to continue to build in Ariel and in the settlement blocs,” Eitan said during a visit he made to Ariel on Tuesday.
“The transfer of hundreds of thousands of settlers from these areas is neither realistic or just,” he said.
Eitan called for Ariel and other West Bank settlement blocs to be annexed to Israel as part of a finalstatus agreement with the Palestinians.
“I came to Ariel out of solidarity with the battle its Mayor Ron Nachman and its residents are waging to annex Ariel and the settlement blocs to Israel,” said Eitan, as he toured the city with Nachman.
“To achieve this objective within the framework of an internationally recognized agreement, we will have to make substantial territorial concessions,” said Eitan.
He added that Israel would also have to suggest ideas for territorial swaps with the Palestinians.
“Today, we have to recognize that the reality has changed and to say with a brave heart: This all or nothing policy will lead us to lose everything – Judea and Samaria, the settlement blocs, Ariel and maybe even more than that,” he said.
No other country in the world supports Israel’s settlements in Judea and Samaria, he said. In the past few years, opposition to this policy in the international community has grown, he said.
Israel is increasingly isolated while the Palestinians have a captive and supportive international audience, he said.
Nations are unilaterally recognizing Palestinian statehood, he said.
Diplomats are warning that international organizations, most significantly the United Nations, are likely to make decisions that would harm Israel, Eitan said.
“Our standing in in the international arena has never been worse,” he said.
Appearing to take a jab at the Foreign Ministry, without naming it, Eitan said that those experts in in charge of foreign relations, those who were supposed to formulate a plan to combat international isolation and improve Israel’s standing, “had failed.” They received wide authority and financial means, but have “achieved nothing,” he said.
Instead of protecting Israeli interests internationally, they are busy inciting, supporting partisanship and divisiveness, that undermines the basis of Israeli democracy, Eitan said.
In the name of ministerial responsibly, they should have long ago turned to another line of work, he said. But it is easier to capture easy headlines by undermining the prime minister’s standing in the United Nations and subverting him at home, he said.