Netanyahu: We must allow
natural growth of settlements
Former Israeli Prime Minister and current Likud Chairman and Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu has warned the Israeli government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert against making any further concessions to Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas. In an address earlier this week to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations at Jerusalems Davids Citadel Hotel, Mr. Netanyahu warned that any land Israel conceded to Abbas in Judea and Samaria would simply create new bases for militant Islam, saying Thats what happened when we left Gaza, thats what happened when we left Lebanon and that any part of these territories vacated by Israel would be filled by Hamas.
Mr. Netanyahu also stated that Israel has no peace partner in Mahmoud Abbas and castigated the Olmert government for permitting the PA to rebuild its presence in Jerusalem, noting that there have been dozens of Fatah events at Orient House, the PLO headquarters in Jerusalem closed down by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Moreover, he told the audience, the Olmert government is proceeding without pause in negotiating concessions over Jerusalem, which would result in bringing death and destruction to Israels capital, just as earlier withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza have brought the same for Israel in those regions.
Mr. Netanyahu also took issue with the Olmert governments recent action to prohibit all growth of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, including even development within these communities to accommodate natural population growth. He said that, Its not right or sensible to prohibit natural growth of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, just as there are no barriers on the natural growth of Arab communities in these areas.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We agree with Mr. Netanyahus words on this important subject and indeed the ZOA came out immediately against this unprecedented decision to stifle all growth in these communities as soon as it became public. While on previous occasions in Israels history, Israeli governments have undertaken, normally for limited periods, to build no new communities; to halt the territorial expansion of existing communities or to remove unauthorized outposts, on no previous occasion has an Israeli government agreed to squelch the normal, natural growth and development of established communities within their pre-existing boundaries.
When agreeing to the Oslo Accords in 1993, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin pointedly refused to stop the natural growth of the communities. The reason for this refusal was clear. Despite the deep and genuine Israeli interest in reaching peace with the Palestinians, no Israeli government was prepared to endorse the view that these communities are somehow illegitimate. Israel has always rejected the idea that it is illegal for Jews to live in Judea and Samaria. Regardless of the differing approaches of successive Israel governments to the question of territorial concessions, no Israeli government has previously accepted the notion that these territories must be judenrein. We applaud the Opposition Leader for affirming this position.
This decision to freeze all growth within the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is all the more troubling and inappropriate in view of the fact that Mahmoud Abbas Palestinian Authority (PA) has done absolutely nothing to meet it signed commitments under the Oslo agreements to end terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps that feed it. Since the Annapolis summit, Fatah officials have said they will fight alongside Hamas if Israeli forces enter Gaza; Fatah terrorists have targeted Israeli civilians; Abbas, Saeb Erekat and other senior PA officials have stated that they will not accept Israel as a Jewish state; Abbas has approved a new Fatah poster showing Israel named Palestine and painted in Palestinian colors and Fatah television has displayed similar maps. Nor has Fatah amended its Constitution calling for Israels destruction and the use of terrorism as an essential element in the struggle to achieve that goal
By agreeing for the first time to prohibit all natural growth and development within the confines of these communities, Prime Minister Olmert is basically endorsing the Palestinian Arab view that these communities are illegitimate and must therefore be stifled and then removed. We regard this as a dark day in the history of Zionism and we urge other American Jewish organizations, irrespective of their individual approach to the question of peace-making, to criticize this freeze. Even organizations that support large territorial concessions to the Palestinian Authority should be appalled at the implications of this move and the unjustified hardship and penalizing of these Jewish communities. Peace will not come to Israel by making Judea and Samaria judenrein.