Watchman Newsletter

PM visits Itamar: �They shoot, we build�

The Jerusalem Post (Link) - Herb Keinon (March 13, 2011)

Netanyahu goes to homes of Fogel parents to give condolences; promises those responsible for terror attack will be found.

The terrorists shoot, and we build, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the parents of Ehud and Ruth Fogel on Sunday night during a shiva call, hours after the government�s settlement committee decided to approve the building of 400 -500 housing units in large settlement blocks.

�They say Eretz Yisrael is acquired through pain and suffering,� Netanyahu told the grieving parents, �but we didn�t think the pain and suffering would be so great. This heinous act has led all of us to say, �Enough.� The security services are doing everything they can to find the murders, and we will find the criminals. They are not people, but beasts.�

Even as Netanyahu and the government devoted most of the cabinet�s discussion on Sunday to the attack and hearing briefings from Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and the deputy head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the decision to approve a few hundred houses in the settlement blocs became the major story in the international media.

According to a statement put out by the Prime Minister�s Office, the Ministerial Committee on Settlements � which includes the prime minister, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Home Front Minister Matan Vilna�i, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya�alon and Ministerwithout- Portfolio Bennie Begin � decided on Saturday night to a approve a few hundred housing units in Gush Etzion, Ma�aleh Adumim, Ariel and Modi�in Illit. The statement termed this �measured building� of a few hundred units inside the settlement blocs.

The units approved are among projects that the government stopped in various stages of planning in efforts to get the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, and reportedly include 48 units in Gush Etzion, 300 in Modi�in Illit and fewer than 100 each in Ariel and Ma�aleh Adumim.

Sources in the Prime Minister�s Office said the announcement did not come as a surprise to Washington. Robert Serry, the UN�s Middle East envoy, was quoted as having condemned the move.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai said in the cabinet meeting that this number was not enough, and that there should be at least 5,000 units � 1,000 for each murder.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said that he was pleased with the move, and hopes that �there will be other decisions like this in the future.�

The decision met with mixed response in the settlements. Danny Dayan, the head of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, termed the decision a �small step in the right direction,� but that the government should approve further projects and build a new neighborhood in Itamar as a memorial for the victims.

Dayan said this was the first time the Netanyahu government approved new homes, and it was �deeply troubling that it requires the murder of children in the arms of their parents� for this to happen.

Ma�aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel reportedly said it was wrong to connect the permits to the murders, and that building in the settlement blocs did not need to be done under the cover of murdered Israelis.

On Saturday night, in a public statement after the attack, Netanyahu said, �Terrorism will not determine the settlement map; we will.�

Netanyahu�s spokesman Mark Regev said there was no contradiction between the announcement to build in the settlement blocs and the prime minister�s stated desire to move forward with the diplomatic process.

�All of this is taking place inside the large settlements,� he said. �In every peace plan that has been put on the table in the last 18 years, the large settlement blocs remain a part of Israel in the final-status agreement.�

During the cabinet meeting, the attack on Itamar turned into a discussion of the price to be paid for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit when Vice Premier and Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom wondered aloud whether, if and when the murderers of the Fogels are captured, they will be on the top of the list Hamas will demand for Schalit�s freedom.

Netanyahu, according to government officials, launched into a explanation of the government�s policy that �dangerous� prisoners will not be released from prison and allowed back into Judea and Samaria because that � as has been the case in the past when Palestinians terrorists were released in prisoner exchanges � would lead to additional attacks in the West Bank, as well as inside the Green Line. �


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