Israel insists on settlement resumption
Less than a week ahead of the US-backed talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), Tel Aviv insists on resuming its West Bank settlement expansions.
In November, Israel announced a 10-month freeze on West Bank settlements which excluded the projects in east al-Quds (Jerusalem) and allowed construction of schools, synagogues and ‘community centers.’
“There is a government decision to freeze construction only for 10 months, and when that period ends, the decision is no longer valid,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a meeting of Likud ministers on Sunday, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The remarks came in response to reconciliatory proposals by Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor and other Israeli cabinet members allow resumption of settlement construction, albeit only within large settlements and not beyond the 1976 borders.
This is while the Palestinian side has shrugged off all the responsibility for a failure in talks, saying only Tel Aviv will be to blame if the negotiations fail over Israeli settlements.
Despite repeated warnings by the Palestinians to withdraw from the US-backed talks, Netanyahu has described Israel’s settlements as one of the core issues to be discussed in the negotiations scheduled for September 2 in Washington, saying he would make no declarations before then.
Netanyahu said any peace agreement should be based on the recognition of Israel as “the national state of the Jewish people,” and assurance that Israel would not face the same failure it did after withdrawing from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip — where Tel Aviv is viewed as an illegitimate, occupying force.