Livni: Settlement building 'diplomatic mistake,' endangers Israel's battle against Hamas

Justice minister places blame on Bayit Yehudi for pressuring the government to publish tenders for thousands of new settler homes; says move "punishes the citizens of Israel, not Hamas."

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel has made a diplomatic mistake and endangered its battle against Hamas by publishing tenders for 1,500 new homes over the pre-1967 lines, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) said on Thursday.
“This is a diplomatic mistake that will only make it more difficult for us to mobilize world opinion against Hamas,” LIvni told Army Radio.
Israel had announced the new units — 400 in east Jerusalem and 1,100 in West Bank settlements — on Wednesday night in response to the newly unified Fatah-Hamas government.
Israel is expected to announce the construction of another 1,500 units over the pre-1967 lines, but has yet to do so.
Livni blamed her coalition partner, the Bayit Yehudi for pressuring the government to publish the initial batch of tenders.
This isn’t a punishment against Hamas, its a punishment that the Bayit Yehudi has imposed upon the citizens of Israel.
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) whose office published the building announcement told Army Radio in response,
“This building is too little too late,” Ariel said as he explained that building over the pre-1967 lines must be normalized so that it occurs regularly.
Earlier in a statement he issued to the media he sad that it was the appropriate Zionist response to the new Palestinian unity government. He added that it would help bring down the housing cost in the country.
But Labor Party head Isaac Herzog told Army Radio that this building came at the expense of new building in the Negev. Herzog said this kind of announcement endangers a two-state solute and pushes Israel in the direction of a bi-national state.
He echoed Livni in explaining that this only harms Israel's standing on the international stage. "It's not normal what just happened," he said.