Netanyahu: Freeze On New Construction Continues
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has called upon Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the de facto freeze that has applied to Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem since the end of the official 10-month freeze last September. The existence of this unofficial freeze has been widely suspected for months but it was only last week that ZOA National President Morton A. Klein won what amounted to an admission from Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that such a freeze was indeed in place. The Netanyahu government imposed a freeze on all Jewish and only Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria in November 2009 after great pressure and criticism was applied by the Obama Administration. The ZOA believes that a de facto freeze is terrible precedent that will harm Israeli vital interests and constitutes but another, one-sided Israeli concession for which Israel does not even earn any credit or recognition.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has justified the absence of new construction bids saying that existing construction would be endangered by not applying a freeze, since, We are several weeks after a Quartet resolution and after a US veto and before the next Quartet, so we must take the reality we are living in into consideration (Roni Sofer, PM slams calls for new settlement bids, Yediot Ahronot, February 28, 2011).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We strongly believe that adhering to a de facto Jewish construction freeze is a serious error for Israel. The absence of peace is due to Palestinian non-acceptance of Israels right to exist as a Jewish state and the terrorism which they use in consequence of that position, not because Jews build homes and kindergartens in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.
Even if there were sound moral or strategic reasons to impose such a freeze and there are not Mahmoud Abbas Palestinian Authority (PA) has done absolutely nothing to merit any Israeli concession the PA has not negotiated, let alone in good faith; it has not met its obligations to arrest terrorists or end incitement to hatred and murder against Israel; it has not even started to inculcate a message of peace and reconciliation to Palestinians.
To adhere to a de facto freeze is unjustified and entirely counter-productive, sending as it does the message that Palestinians can continue to receive Israeli rewards and concessions while flouting all their obligations to arrest terrorists, outlaw terrorist groups and end incitement to hatred and murder. It also imposes unjustified and unnecessary hardship on Jews who cannot build homes, extensions, kindergartens or businesses upon which they depend for their families and livelihood.
It is claimed that current Jewish construction might be endangered if Israel approved new construction because of the international climate and the criticism this would produce. We beg to differ. Those who oppose Jews living and building homes and communities in these territories will not be appeased by Israeli gestures, including de facto freezes for which it in any case gets no credit. Only firmness in affirming Jewish rights has in the long run any chance of bringing a change for the better in the situation. Indeed, halting construction because of foreign criticism only sends the ruinous message that Israel does not really believe that Jews have a just claim to the land on which these communities are built. That is not a message that will protect Jewish rights in the future.