The Israeli foreign minister has expressed strong opposition to any curbs on the expansion of Jewish settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian lands.
Calling Israel’s partial settlement freeze in the West Bank a failure, hawkish Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday that the word “freeze” must be erased from the Israeli vocabulary.
“I think, like many others, that there will not be another freeze. We must erase the word freeze from our vocabulary,” he told Israeli public radio.
The remarks come as Washington is making efforts to convince Tel Aviv to extend a partial freeze on settlement expansion in the West Bank for another three months to keep the direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Tel Aviv alive.
In exchange for a partial freeze in Israeli settlement construction, the US has offered Israel a package of incentives — including fighter jets and diplomatic assistance at the United Nations.
The new round of talks between Tel Aviv and the PA, which resumed at the White House in September, came to a deadlock shortly after its beginning, over Israel’s refusal to extend the 10-month moratorium.
The PA suspended the talks over the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Palestinians argue that the expansion of Jewish settlements on their lands will reduce the likelihood of the establishment of a future Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel captured East al-Quds during the Six-Day War in 1967 and later annexed it in a move which has not been recognized by the international community.
Settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories are considered illegal under international law.