PM: Settlement freeze a one-time offer

PM Settlement freeze on

The ten-month moratorium on new settlement construction is a "one-time, temporary offer," warned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when he spoke Tuesday night at an economic conference in Airport City, just outside of Ben-Gurion Airport. "We took this step out of a deep desire to start anew negotiations for peace with the Palestinians," said Netanyahu. Should the Palestinians not return to the negotiations table, he said, "We will resume building. The future of Judea and Samaria will be determined by a final status agreement and not one day before then," said Netanyahu. The moratorium was not intended to stop the continuation of normal life in Judea and Samaria, said Netanyahu. He added that work would continue on the 3,000 apartment units which had been authorized. Classrooms and synagogues will also be built. "The decision is not to authorize new construction," said Netanyahu. He added that "it was not an easy decision, not for the settlers and not for me." "The settlers in Judea and Samaria are an integral part of our nation," said Netanyahu. Also commenting on the recent settlement freeze decision was retired Lt.-Col. Zvi Keren, who told Army Radio later on Tuesday that "after the halt [in settlement construction], there might someday come an evacuation." Keren stressed that Israelis could not continue to "inhabit every hill in Judea and Samaria," as the only possible solution to the conflict in the region was "two states for two peoples." "It's a tactical maneuver, not a strategic one," said Keren, conceding that "as time goes by, the evacuation of Jews becomes more and more difficult." Earlier on Tuesday, civil administration inspectors attempting to issue injunctions around Judea and Samaria encountered resistance from settlers in Kiryat Arba, Karnei Shomron and other communities in the region.