EU's settlement decision augments right-wing pressure on PM

Elkin says there “if the Europeans pressure us, there is no reason to make gestures to the Palestinians.”

Ze'ev Elkin 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Ze'ev Elkin 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The European Union’s decision to end cooperation with Israel over the Green Line augmented pressure from right-wing politicians on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.
The politicians said that before the EU’s decision, they were prepared to tolerate Netanyahu making limited gestures to the Palestinians to bring them to the negotiating table. But they said that now they see that there is no point in taking such steps, because international pressure will come no matter what Israel does.
“If the Europeans pressure us, there is no reason to make gestures to the Palestinians,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud Beytenu), a resident of Kfar Eldad in Gush Etzion.
“Now we will need to end the freeze in construction in Judea and Samaria to compensate the residents for what they will lose from the EU decision.”
The Knesset’s Land of Israel Caucus will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday calling for an end to the freeze. The event will be held under the banner “No more free gifts to the Palestinians.
Build in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria now!” The caucus’s co-chair, Bayit Yehudi MK Orit Struck, a resident of Hebron, said the EU’s decision proved the freeze’s folly. She said Israel needed to resume building, not to punish the Europeans but because there was no reason for 700,000 Israelis to suffer for diplomatic talks that will not happen because they were being torpedoed by the Europeans.
Struck praised Netanyahu for passing the first test by not caving into European demands immediately. She said it was up to her caucus to ensure that he stays strong.
“The Europeans expected Netanyahu to surrender to their threats and extortion,” Struck said. “They did not realize how connected Israelis are to Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.”
Elkin and Struck will both pressure Netanyahu to stop the Europeans from investing in West Bank projects that benefit the Palestinians and from funding left-wing Israeli organizations.
“We need to make clear to them that they have what to lose,” Struck said. “That is the only way to get them to stop their show.”
Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom (Likud Beytenu) said he has told the Europeans for years that if they want to play a role in the peace process, they have to act in a more balanced manner.
“By deciding unilaterally that the border will be on pre-1967 lines with Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, they shot themselves in the foot once again,” Shalom said.
“They put yet another obstacle in the way of the peace process. They should have seen that the ball was in the Palestinians’ court, not in ours.”