Ya'alon: Right to build 'indisputable'

Settler leaders to hold emergency meeting; Ban Ki-moon: New construction "contrary to int'l law."

yaalon with flag sombre 248 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
yaalon with flag sombre 248 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon continued to place himself at odds with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday when he spoke in favor of settlement development and against territorial concessions. His words came as Netanyahu prepared to place a six-month moratorium on new construction in the settlements as a prelude toward negotiations with the Palestinians for a two-state solution. "The right of the Jewish people to settle in any part of the historic homeland is indisputable," said Ya'alon at a ceremony in Eli to mark the settlement's 25th anniversary. The Eli settlement, Ya'alon said as he stood on a stage set up outside on a grassy park, has "breathed life into Zionism." In a ceremony that included fireworks, a film and music he struck a warning note about the future should Israel take the path of continued territorial concessions. "It's time to speak truth to the residents of Israel and to give them the correct picture of what has happened here in the last 20 years," said Ya'alon. "What is clear is that continued territorial concessions have only increased our neighbors' appetite [and] reinforced the impression that what we have built here is a spider's web," said Ya'alon. "You have been promised that the solution is just around the corner with more concessions," said Ya'alon. It's not the first time that in recent months that he has been at odds with Netanyahu. In August he went to the ruins of the former Samaria settlement of Homesh, which the government destroyed during the 2005 disengagement, and called for it to be rebuilt. Ya'alon also irked Netanyahu when he referred to Peace Now as a "virus." Ya'alon spoke in Eli on the same night that Likud minister stayed away from a highly publicized party rally in support of Judea and Samaria. Other politicians who joined the Eli celebrations were Likud MKs Danny Danon and Ze'ev Elkin. Danny Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, and the council's director-general, Pinhas Wallerstein, were also present. On Thursday the council has called an "emergency" afternoon meeting in the Karnei Shomron settlement. Dayan told The Jerusalem Post that the council wanted to prevent Netanyahu from executing any kind of a freeze on new building in the settlements. He had no comment, however, on the absence of Likud Ministers from the pro-settler Likud rally in Tel Aviv Thursday. Ma'aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel, however, said he was so angry with Netanyahu that he planned to boycott his Rosh Hashanna toast on Thursday. "What's the point in talking," he said. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday said Israel's plans to continue building settlements in the West Bank were "contrary to international law." According to AFP, Ban "noted with deep concern" Defense Minister Ehud Barak's approval of 455 new housing units in in Judea and Samaria settlements on Monday. "Such actions and all settlement activity are contrary to international law and the roadmap," a statement released by Ban's bureau reportedly said, referring to the international plan for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "The Secretary-General urges Israel to respond positively to the important efforts under way to create the conditions for effective Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and reiterates his call on Israel to stop all settlement activity, including natural growth, and dismantle all outposts erected since March 2001 in the occupied Palestinian territory," Ban stressed. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.