Danon: Construction Freeze? Terrorist Release? No Way!
Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) promised on Sunday that he would fight any Israeli initiative to freeze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria or release terrorists as a “gesture” to the Palestinian Authority for resuming peace talks.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Danon said that he does not understand why PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas should be rewarded with the freeing of terrorists with blood on their hands simply because he agreed to send a representative to meet Israeli envoys.
“In the Middle East, this is perceived as weakness,” said Danon, adding that he believes that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is essentially trapped between left-leaning ministers such as Tzipi Livni and Amir Peretz and members of his own party who are encouraging him to remember and adhere to the values of the Likud.
"We were able to prevent a construction freeze, we were able to avoid talk about the pre-1967 borders and I believe the last word has not yet been spoken about the release of terrorists,” he said, adding that he is convinced that the Netanyahu will not have a majority in the Likud if he chooses to hold talks on the basis of the indefensible pre-1967 borders. "These are not Likud positions, but extreme leftist positions,” said Danon, emphasizing that neither he nor other Likud members intend to be subcontractors for Livni's positions.
Danon denied that a construction freeze was currently being implemented in Judea and Samaria, noting that he himself fought a previous government decision to freeze construction. As of right now, he added, there has been no official decision to freeze construction.
He said that while private construction continues throughout Judea and Samaria, government construction tenders must be issued as well. He said that such tenders have been issued, albeit at a slower pace than desired. "I would like to see much more," admitted Danon.
While some have welcomed the announcement that Israel and the Palestinian Authority will resume talks, a growing number of ministers and MKs have expressed concern over the promises that Netanyahu is rumored to have made in order to win Abbas’s agreement to negotiate.
Members of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) part, including ministers Naftali Bennett and Uri Ariel, have expressed concern as well. Ariel warned that if reports regarding Netanyahu’s concessions to Abbas were true, “this is a serious mistake.”
There have been several reports regarding Netanyahu’s promises to Abbas, who formerly listed several preconditions to talks, among them the release of terrorist prisoners held by Israel and a complete ban on construction of new housing for Jews living east of the 1949 armistice line.
Some foreign papers have said that Netanyahu agreed to base talks on the “1967 lines,” meaning the 1949 Armistice Line. Others report that Netanyahu promised to free terrorist prisoners prior to his first meeting with Abbas. Some reports say Netanyahu agreed to an unofficial building freeze in Judea and Samaria, as well.