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      Bennett: Keep Building During Negotiations

      Housing Minister: there will be no construction freeze, I'll use my authority to enlarge housing supply
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 7/20/2013, 11:44 PM

      Naftali Bennett
      Naftali Bennett
      Israel news photo: Flash 90

      Bayit Yehudi Chairman and Economics Minister, Naftali Bennett, called Saturday evening for construction in Judea and Samaria to proceed even after negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) are launched.

      "Our insistence on our principles paid off,” Bennett said in a statement following U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's announcement that peace talks were about to resume. “It has been proven that when we insist on our position, negotiations can be carried out without preconditions, without a freeze, and certainly without the delusional demand to carry them out on the basis of [pre-] 67 lines.

      "With the launching of negotiations,” said Bennett, “we will insist on the continuation of normal life, and a continuation of construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. History has taught us that construction brings life, and the eviction of communities brings terror.”

      EU "not an honest broker"

      Bennett added that following last week's announcement of an EU boycott against parts of Israel liberated in 1967, the Bayit Yehudi party will not agree to have the EU involved in negotiations with the PA. “They have taken themselves out of any position of an honest broker,” he explained. “We are embarking on the journey carefully and with eyes wide open. We are not naïve.”

      Housing Minister Uri Ariel, also of Bayit Yehudi, reacted negatively to reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has agreed to release terrorist prisoners as a “gesture” to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, as a part of the return to negotiations.

      "If the reports in foreign press about agreement to preconditions are true, this is a serious mistake,” he said. The release of terror prisoners endangers Israel's security, he added.

      Min. Ariel also voiced opposition to any kind of freeze on construction for Jews in Judea and Samaria. “Under no circumstances will I lend my hand to an immoral and un-Jewish act that will make it possible to freeze construction in Jerusalem and in the settlement enterprise, and I will take action to use my authority as Housing Minister in order to enlarge the supply of housing in the required locations,” he said.