Ariel Says 'Israeli Ministers Caused Kerry to Blame Israel'
Israeli ministers are responsible for US Secretary of State John Kerry blaming Israel over the peace talks' failure on Tuesday, according to Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel.
"I want to say to my friends, the ministers in the government of Israel: there's no debate between all the government ministers that the failure of the talks is the fault of the Palestinians," remarked Ariel in Modi'in on Tuesday, speaking before 120 local authority representatives of the Jewish Home party.
"Unfortunately for reasons that cannot be explained, maybe a bit of exile mentality, (Israeli ministers) start internal arguments about who's guilty for what," added Ariel. "That's something unwanted and damaging."
Noting the cycle of accusations, Ariel continued "when there are ministers taking pains to say 1,000 times that we're guilty, in the end there are those across the sea who listen, take those words and repeat them."
Kerry's blame of Israel came on Tuesday, when he said before the Senate "another 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem, and 'poof'...that was sort of the moment."
Regarding Kerry's comment about the "700 settlement units," Israel reissued a call for tenders on over 700 housing units in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo last Tuesday. A construction freeze on Jewish building in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria was not a precondition of the talks.
Israeli attacks preceding Kerry's blame
After the tenders were announced, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni attacked Ariel on Saturday, saying "he tried to torpedo what I'm doing together with the prime minister; the result was mainly that the whole world claims we are guilty even when we acted appropriately - that's the cost of Jewish Home's presence in the government."
Ariel responded, noting Livni's "wailing and crying about building in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria are crocodile tears from someone who knew about the plans beforehand, like the Palestinians and the Americans."
While not a minister, MK Elazar Stern of Livni's Hatnua party similarly gave a message of Israeli guilt as it were, when he recently requested and got funding to Ministry of Housing projects frozen for review.
Stern on Monday claimed Ariel "supports a lack of transparency [in how government funding is utilized], as reflected by activities of the Settlement Division. It's hard for me to trust him when his motives are doubted - I personally have trouble sending him so much money."
Leave a chair empty for Pollard
Ariel also spoke about Jonathan Pollard on Tuesday, now in his 29th year in an American jail on charges of spying for Israel. Ariel said "we must educate and remember that the people of Israel are involved one with the other. We must leave a chair empty for Pollard."
Reports last Tuesday suggested the US had offered Pollard's release to Israel to keep the peace talks alive, in exchange for 1,200 convicted Arab terrorists and a partial building freeze in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Pollard later the same day waived a parole hearing, reportedly to protest the offer given his opposition to freeing terrorists.
But the proposed deal apparently unraveled after the Palestinian Authority (PA) breached peace talk conditions last Tuesday by applying for membership at 15 UN agencies.