Netanyahu: Settlement blocs indisputable part of Israel

PM plants tree in Gush Etzion, will travel to Ma'aleh Adumim, Ariel in honor of Tu B'Shvat, to send "clear message that we will stay here."

netanyahu 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
netanyahu 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

The settlements blocs of Ariel, Ma'aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion arean indisputable part of Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu saidon Sunday.

He spoke in Kibbut Kfar Etzion, which is part of the GushEtzion settlement bloc, where he planted a tree in honor of theupcoming Tu B'Shvat holiday. 

He was then scheduled to head to the Ma'aleh Adumim and plantanother tree. Netanyahu said he will similarly plant a tree in theAriel settlement sometime in the next few days

With these trees, Netanyahu said, he wanted to "send a clearmessage that we will stay here. We are planning and we are building."

He added that these areas are an "indisputable part of Israelforever. This is an idea that is accepted by the majority of Israelis"and is part of international agreements, Netanyahu said.

It was his first visit to West Bank settlements since he took office at the end of last March.

His words come in the mist of a 10-month moratorium on newsettlements construction, a move that has sown seeds of doubt in theminds of many settlers regarding his commitment to the settlementmovement.

Government sources, while not willing to say that the primeminister's selection of the locales to plant trees was meant as apolitical message, added that it was clear he did not think Israelcould return to the pre-1967 lines, because he did not think they weredefensible.

Likewise, Netanyahu was planting trees in areas he believedwould always stay within the state, and which were very much part ofthe national consensus.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.