Settlers tell PM: Respond to PA rejectionism by building

Leaders urge Netanyahu to issue new building tenders after PA rejection; Efrat Council: We understand there's 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],” Efrat Local Council Chairman Oded Revivi said.
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Efrat is one of several settlements where new building is largely frozen without such tenders.
Revivi and other settler leaders spoke with The Jerusalem Post in the aftermath of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech to the Knesset, in which the premier offered to impose a new moratorium on construction if the Palestinian Authority would recognize that Israel was a Jewish state.
The PA immedately rejected the offer.
“From the PA’s response we all understand that there is no partner for negotiations,” Revivi said.
Karnei Shomron Local Council Chairman Herzl Ben-Arie said, “The Palestinians are not ready for peace or negotiations.”
To Netanyahu he said, “Be brave and issue new tenders.” As in Efrat, construction in his settlement is frozen without them.
A number of settler leaders added that the prime minister’s offer was dangerous in that it strengthened the United States’s belief that Netanyahu could be swayed to curb or stop settlement construction.
“He [Netanyahu] had to know that the Palestinians would not accept it,” Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel said. But making the gesture “opened the door for the US to pressure Israel to impose a new moratorium.
“The Americans and the Palestinians have to know that it is terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hizbullah that are stumbling blocks to peace, and not the settlements,” Kashriel said.
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 Local Council Chairman 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,” Eliezer said. “If the price of that recognition is a second moratorium, then [such a gesture] is a well-thought out, worthy and correct one.”
Naftali Bennett, the director-general of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, 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 understand why Israel is continuing to negotiate even a minute longer when [the Palestinians] do not even accept and recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” Bennett said.
Dani Dayan, chairman of the council, said that it was forbidden for Israel to curb or stop settlement construction under any circumstances.
“The settlements are the core of Israel’s strength and should not become hostage to Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas],” said Dayan.
He added that a second moratorium was a diplomatic trap that would destroy Netanyahu’s credibility.