'If PA rejects Jewish state, authorize West Bank building'

Settler leaders call on PM to issue new Jewish West Bank building tenders in response to PA's rejection; Efrat Council head tells 'Post' we understand that there is no partner for negotiations."

311_settlement (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
New government issued tenders for settlement building is the best response to the Palestinian Authority's rejection of Israel as a Jewish state, said settlers leaders on Monday night.
"We call on the Prime Minister not just to stand behind the fact that the freeze [on new settlement construction] has not been extended but to issue new [building] tenders [for the settlements]," said Efrat Council head Oded Revivi.
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Efrat is one of a number of settlements where new building is largely frozen without such tenders.
He and other settlers leaders spoke with The Jerusalem Post in the aftermath of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's speech to the Knesset in which Netanyahu offered to impose a new moratorium on settlement construction if the Palestinian Authority would recognize that Israel was a Jewish state.
The PA immediately rejected the offer.
"From the PA's response we all understand that there is not any partner for negotiations," said Revivi.
Karnei Shomron Council head Herzl Ben Arie added, "The Palestinians are not ready for peace or negotiations." To Netanyahu, he said, "Be brave and issue new tenders." Like Efrat construction in his settlement is similarly frozen without them. A number of settler leaders added that the very offer was dangerous in that it strengthened the United States' belief that Netanyahu in the end could be swayed to curb or stop settlement construction.
"He [Netanyahu] had to know that the Palestinians would not accept it," said Ma'aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel. But in making the gesture, "it opened the door for the US to pressure Israel to impose a new moratorium," said Kashriel.
"The Americans and the Palestinians have to know that it is terror organizations like Hamas and Hizbulla which are stumbling blocks to peace, and not the settlements," said Kashriel.
He added that if Israel continues to make concessions, it will have nothing left to barter with when it enters negotiations.
Samaria Citizens' Committee Chairman Benny Katzover said, "I am sorry that the leader of the right has placed a question mark on our future and has invited with his own hand, international pressure on the government of Israel." But Alfei Menashe Council head Hisdai Eliezer said that he would support a second moratorium, if it was followed by massive construction.
He added that Netanyahu was correct in insisting that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
"The time has come to tell the Palestinians that we are here and that they should recognize that we have a Jewish state," said Eliezer.
"If the price of that recognition is a second moratorium, then [such a gesture] is a well thought out, worthy and correct one," said Eliezer.
Naftalie Bennett, the director-general of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria didn't address the issue of a second moratorium, but said he applauded Netanyahu for insisting that the Palestinians have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
"I can't udnerstand why Israel is continuing to negotiate even a minute longer when they [The Palestinians] do not even accept and recognize Israel as a Jewish state," said Bennett.
Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said that in any circumstance it was forbidden for Israel to curb or stop settlement construction.
"The settlements are the core of Israel's strength and should not become hostage to Abu Mazen," said Dayan.
He added that a second moratorium was a diplomatic trap which would destroy Netanyahu's credibility.