Yishai: PM set to build in blocs only

Interior minister tells 'Post' about likely policy when freeze ends.

Eli Yishai 311 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Eli Yishai 311 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will resume building only in the settlement blocs Israel will likely keep under an agreement with the Palestinians when the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria ends on September 26, Interior Minister Eli Yishai predicted on Wednesday.
Deputy Prime Minister Yishai, who is a member of the seven-man inner security cabinet, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview at his Jerusalem office that since these communities are expected to become part of Israel under any peace deal, there was no reason not to build there even amid direct talks with the Palestinian Authority.
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Yishai stressed that he personally supported building everywhere in Judea and Samaria, but said he expected Netanyahu to decide differently.
“I believe that he will resume building only in the blocs as a gesture,” Yishai said. “This is my assessment and not something I am informed about.”
Yishai’s associates said he would do everything possible to persuade Netanyahu not to decide this, especially because the freeze, in place since late November, has not led to any diplomatic breakthrough. But they said Yishai had not decided yet what to do if the prime minister decided to build only in the blocs.
Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, who is also in the septet, first came out in favor of resuming building only in the blocs in a June 15 speech in Efrat.
Sources close to Netanyahu said shortly afterward that he might make such a decision because it could satisfy both Likud and Labor. They noted that Netanyahu had made a point of planting trees on Tu Bishvat in three “consensus” areas: Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion.
But when Netanyahu was asked recently whether he might decide to build only in the blocs, he said this was Meridor’s point of view, not his own.
“There has been no decision or hint by the prime minister in that direction,” a source in the Prime Minister’s Office said in response to Yishai’s assessment.
“The security cabinet decision was that construction would resume everywhere after 10 months. Netanyahu hasn’t talked to anyone in the septet about any other option or given them any other indication.”
The full interview with Yishai will appear in next week’s Jerusalem Post.