Jack Khoury, Chaim Levinson, Jonathan Lis
Haaretz (Analysis)
September 12, 2010 - 12:00am

A continuation of a moratorium on West Bank settlement building would usher the end of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, a prominent settler leader said on Sunday, thus commenting on what many consider to an earlier remark by the premier.

Speaking at a meeting of Likud ministers earlier Sunday, Netanyahu hinted that he was open to a formulation of a partial building freeze in the settlements after September 30. "The freeze order is support to expire at the end of the month," Netanyahu said.

"19,000 homes can potentially be built, but I believe that in practice the number will be far less, and we have to think about this intelligently," Netanyahu added. "We will not accept a dictate that nothing will be built, but there are other options beside all or nothing."

Commenting on the PM's remarks, Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said Sunday that "an announcement of a continuation of the building freeze will be considered an announcement of the end of term for the Netanyahu government, a government that was elected with the votes of the nationalist camp but is trying to implement the policies of Balad," Mesika said.

According to Mesika, "There is a limit to the untrustworthiness and the fraudulence – even from a politician like Netanyahu."

Mesika added that ever since the Netanyahu government took power in 2009, the situation in the settlements has deteriorated dramatically, and as a result of that, so has the situation for the whole State of Israel.

"A stuttering start to construction in the tiny minority of settlements on 6% of the land is the beginning of the expulsion from most of the settlements and from 94% of Judea and Samaria," Mesika said.

"Apparently Netanyahu wants to be Sharon, and the nationalist camp will vomit him out and bring down his government."

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) responded to Netanyahu's statement, saying, "No one should be surprised when a spineless politician folds. All of Netanyahu's commitments to renew the building at the end of the freeze period aren't worth a garlic peel. The same goes for Likud ministers who come to terms with the continuation of the freeze."

MK Ahmed Tibi, Deputy Knesset Speaker and United Arab List – Ta'al chairman, said in response to Netanyahu's statements that a compromise formula for building in the settlements, in which there is construction in the large settlement blocs, is worse than the current situation.

Tibi explained that the purpose of construction in the large settlement blocs is to force the Palestinians to accept the Israeli sovereignty over them, although Palestinians want them to be evacuated in a final settlement.

Tibi made the statements after a meeting in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Likud MK Danny Danon responded to Netanyahu's statements, saying "Netanyahu must remind Obama that Ariel and Beit El are not American cities and he has no mandate to decide on building in Judea and Samaria."

According to Danon, "On September 26, we stop asking the world for permission and start building everywhere, in Ariel, Yitzhar and Beit El."


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