Bayit Yehudi Chairman Slams Pre-Talks Concessions to PA
Bayit Yehudit (Jewish Home) chairman Naftali Bennett says ‘good will’ concessions to the Palestinian Authority (PA) ahead of final status talks make no sense.
Speaking in a Voice of Israel radio interview on Tuesday morning, Bennett told listeners that his party would not oppose the talks. However, he said, he is not convinced there is a “real chance” they will even take place.
The Economy and Trade Minister said, however, that any “good will” concessions ahead of such talks should not be part of the picture.
In order to preserve the Jewish State, Bennett said, Israel must remain strong – militarily, spiritually and economically. Giving in to an obsession with retreating from land, he said, makes no sense.
Instead, Israel should focus on issues such as the rising cost of living, because “this is what interests the Israeli public,” said Bennett.
Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said reports that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was willing to return to the negotiating table without preconditions is simply “spin,” according to IDF Radio.
Abbas is only interested in creating the impression he is willing to talk in order to appease U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the European Union nations pressuring him to return to the table, the Israeli sources said.
Meanwhile, Israel plans to free a number of PA terrorist prisoners as part of a U.S.-brokered deal to bring Israel and the PA back to the negotiating table, according to report in the Hebrew-language Ma’ariv daily newspaper.
According to the report, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has indeed agreed to the “good will” gesture ahead of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins on July 7. In addition, there already appears to be an unspoken agreement to freeze Jewish construction outside of large settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron) – one which may become a formal Cabinet decision, according to the report.