‘Don’t Cave to PA Blackmail'

Yesha Council chief: “In light of blackmail tricks by Abbas, gov't must make clear that it won’t give in, and that freeze will end in a month."

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 10:35

Israel news photo

Israel’s Land of Israel loyalists refuse to leave the playing field only to Mahmoud Abbas, Saeb Erekat, and other PA spokesmen. Instead, the Yesha Council demands that Israel's government ignore the PA threats and resume construction in Judea and Samaria one month from now, as planned.

PA leaders have declared and threatened at every opportunity over the past few days that if Israel resumes construction in Judea and Samaria, they will immediately end the direct talks with Israel that are to begin next week.

Widely overlooked is the fact that the reason the ten-month freeze was declared in the first place was in order to get the PA to agree to direct talks – and that by agreeing to the talks only nine months into the freeze, the PA has received nine “free” months of frozen Jewish life in Judea and Samaria.

The U.S., while not agreeing outright to the PA’s ultimatum, is strengthening pressure on Netanyahu by announcing that the continuation of the freeze should be discussed in the talks, and that it hopes neither side will take steps that might derail the talks.  “We expect that both parties will do everything within their power to create an environment for those negotiations to continue constructively," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said at a briefing on Monday.

Unfavorable Conditions
Pro-PA commentators complain that Abbas has been “forced” into negotiations under unfavorable conditions. There are “no real bargaining chips in Palestinian hands,” writes Joharah Baker on the Bitterlemons.org site, and they “are getting the short end of the stick.” This, following the PA’s rejection – twice – of offers of 98% of Judea and Samaria, from two Israeli Prime Ministers (Barak and Olmert).

Baker also writes that Israel “play[ed] unfairly during the 10 months of its so-called ‘construction freeze, in terms of finding loophole after loophole for continuing building in settlements.” In fact, however, Israel’s enforcement of the freeze was even stricter than it was meant to be, with destruction crews tearing down buildings that had been started before the freeze went into effect, synagogues, and even tiny huts put up by youth groups.

Dayan: Threats Won't Work
“The government of Israel would be smart to make perfectly clear to the heads of the Palestinian Authority,” said Danny Dayan, head of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, “that their attempt to scare Israel into submission is doomed to fail, and that their threats will not change our position.”

In response to the latest threat by chief PA negotiator Erekat to quit the talks, Netanyahu’s spokesman Nir Hefetz said, “Israel has not set any pre-conditions for starting the direct talks. Prime Minister Netanyahu justly emphasizes the importance of solid security arrangements as part of any peace agreement, in order to preclude the renewal of rockets and terrorists from areas under PA control.”