Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom visited on Thursday the Jewish community of Karnei Shomron. During the visit, Shalom planted a tree in the community, saying that planting symbolizes the Jewish people’s roots in the land of Israel.

“I believe that Karnei Shomron is very important for the safety and security of the State of Israel and should be kept in our hands in any future settlement or peace treaty with the Palestinians,” Shalom told IsraelNationalNews during the visit.

Referring to the Palestinian Authority’s plan to seek a unilateral declaration of a state at the United Nations, Shalom said that such unilateral moves “will never bring any kind of solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. If we want to make progress we should negotiate with one another.”

He added that “during the last two and a half years, [the Palestinian Authority has] been making every effort to prevent resumption of negotiations. Unfortunately they’ve succeeded until recently, but now we’re trying to make sure that most Western countries vote against that idea (of a Palestinian state –ed.). If they do so, I think even if there’s a majority, it won’t bring any Palestinian state.”

The Vice Prime Minister also addressed the issue of the ‘settlement blocs’, saying he is against the idea that some Judea and Samaria communities will not remain in Israeli hands as part of a peace agreement. He emphasized that “this is not the attitude or ideology of the Likud party.”

Finally, Shalom spoke of the Freedom Flotilla II, saying “it doesn’t come here for humanitarian reasons.

“The economic standard of living in Gaza is very high,” he emphasized. “The growth last year was 16%, and every day more than 200 trucks come into Gaza from the Israeli side. We are able to give them much more but they are not willing to take it, because they would like to keep the smuggling industry that will enable them to continue to smuggle all kinds of weapons which will be used in the future against innocent Israeli civilians.”