Barak, Bibi Reach Out to Left, Right

PM Netanyahu reassured Israel's political right on Thursday as Defense Minister Barak sought to calm the left.

Maayana Miskin,

Netanyahu (left) and Barak
Netanyahu (left) and Barak
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reached out to Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria and their supporters on Thursday, promising them a “normal life.” His defense minister, Ehud Barak, reached out to Peace Now, promising to “go far” in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu spoke at the Likud's annual Rosh Hashanah party. The prime minister began by praising Judea and Samaria Jews as “loyal” and calling them “our brothers and sisters.”

While he assured residents of Judea and Samaria of a “normal life,” he also did not deny rumors of an imminent construction freeze in the area. Netanyahu said that he will avoid harming Judea and Samaria residents while at the same time pursuing diplomacy with the PA.

The PA has stated that it will negotiate only if Israel freezes all construction for Jews in Judea, Samaria and many neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

Netanyahu continued, saying that while Israel “is wiling to do much for peace,” there are subjects on which the nation is not willing to compromise. “The first is clear and unequivocal recognition of the Jewish people's right to a state in the land of Israel,” he said.

"The second thing we insist on is security – under any peace agreement, Israel must have solid provisions for security. We will not allow Hamastan to rise in the heart of the country,” he said to applause.

Netanyahu mentioned one more Israeli principle, saying, “Jerusalem will be united as the eternal capital of Israel.”

As Netanyahu reassured Judea and Samaria residents, Barak reached out to the other end of the political spectrum, sending a senior aide to meet with Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer. The meeting was disclosed by the Hebrew-language Ynet.

During the meeting, Barak aide Shalom Kital sought to assuage Peace Now's anger over Barak's recent approval of the construction of housing for Jews in Judea and Samaria. The approval for limited construction projects was a necessary stage in a larger plan that includes a construction freeze in Judea and Samaria and talks with the PA, he said.

Netanyahu's government is making intensive efforts to resume dialog with the PA, and “the idea is to go far,” Kital said.

Neither Kital nor Oppenheimer has publicly confirmed the Ynet report.