Now is the time to step up the fight against a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said on Wednesday night at a meeting of the settler leadership in Jerusalem.
Transportation Minister Israel Katz (Likud) said he believed Palestinians should be autonomous in the West Bank and should affiliate with Jordan.
“I am opposed to a Palestinian state,” Katz said at the start of an executive meeting of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
“It is unacceptable, mainly because of our rights to this land,’ Katz said. “In my eyes, the right diplomatic solution is an autonomous Palestinian entity, but with Jordanian civilian and political affiliation.”
Katz added that Gaza should be severed from Israel and connected to Egypt.
Ariel said, “We need to state clearly that there won’t be a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River.”
He noted that even as the settler leadership met, others were working to rekindle talks for a two-state solution in the West Bank. The time to start the battle against those talks and its outcome is now, he said.
“These kinds of things need to be killed when they are small. Otherwise, it becomes harder and more complicated, with less chance of success,” he said.
“Now is the time to act. The responsibility falls first and foremost upon us,” he said.
“We do not ring the alarm bells enough. This time we will not turn the other check,” he said.
“We will fight [politically] for the Land of Israel with all our strength,” he said, explaining that it was important to work within the political parties that make up the coalition.
Both he and Katz said they opposed any form of a construction freeze over the pre- 1967 lines.
“This illness in which Jews freeze Jews is a very serious disease that can return in many forms,” he said. “A freeze cannot be within the Jewish nation’s lexicon, certainly not in the Land of Israel.”
It has been close to a year since new homes have been marketed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, Ariel said.
“I won’t lend a hand in any way to a freeze in Judea and Samaria and in east Jerusalem,” he said.
“According to my political assessment, there is not a majority for it in the Knesset,” Ariel added.
He repeated a statement he made earlier in the day at the Knesset Finance Committee debate on his ministry’s budget, in which he blamed the country’s housing shortage in part on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s refusal to authorize permits for homes in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem.
“We have the ability to market 10,000 housing units in [east] Jerusalem and the settlement blocks in Judea and Samaria,” Ariel told the Knesset Finance Committee during a meeting on the housing budget for 2013-2014.
This includes plans for homes in the settlements of Beit Aryeh, Ofarim and Elkana, Ariel said.