'Israel Will Build, Then Cede'

Defense Minister Ehud Barak says the PA shouldn't complain about Israeli construction because Israel will just cede the houses to them anyway.

Gabe Kahn., | updated: 21:20

Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Defense Minister Ehud Barak says the Palestinian Authority should not object to Israeli construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem because Israel will just hand over anything in areas ceded during talks anyway.

"There's a reality on the ground and natural population growth. People need to build kindergartens," Barak said, noting another construction freeze is not possible.

"But why should the Palestinians care? If a building is constructed on land that will be transferred to them under a peace agreement, they will get the building, hence the issue if of no significance," Barak argued.

According to PA official Saeb Erekat, Abbas is in favor of renewing negotiations with Israel but demands Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu first stop construction in all Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem.

"We call on the European Union to support the recognition of Palestine in the United Nations based on '67 lines," Erekat was quoted as saying.

Barak Optimistic About US Support

Barak told France 24 TV he believes the United States will veto any United Nations Security Council resolution recognizing PA statehood in September.

While the US has not officially said it will exercise its veto on Israel's behalf, its strong position against such a declaration makes such a move likely.

Also, PA official Saeb Erekat said after a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that he fully expected the US to use its veto on Israel's behalf.

Barak concluded the interview saying he hoped the United States would succeed in convincing Quartet members to follow suit, but admitted Russia was unlikely to change its position.

"There's a 50-50 chance that negotiations will resume before September," Barak said.  "We'll consider any initiative."