Israel should restrict building over the Green Line to Jerusalem and major West Bank settlement blocs, outgoing Likud minister Dan Meridor said on Thursday.
Speaking to Israel Radio, the outgoing Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister said that any other construction in the West Bank not only harms Israel’s image internationally, but also contradicts the government’s stated position in favor of a two-state solution.
“There is a discrepancy between… the fact that we are open to a two-state solution and the fact that are not limiting the construction to the settlement blocs,” said Meridor.
Meridor added that construction outside of Jerusalem and the settlement blocs endangers the Zionist enterprise and could end up creating one binational state between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea.
He added that Israel should limit settlement building because it served its own interests, not because the US demands it.
Speculation has risen following the news of an imminent visit by US President Barack Obama in March that Israel may introduce another settlement construction freeze in a bid to restart talks with the Palestinians.
On Thursday morning, Haaretz reported that national security adviser Yaakov Amidror warned, during recent private meetings in the prime minister’s bureau, of a deterioration in Israel’s international standing as a result of construction in disputed areas of the West Bank.
While the Prime Minister’s Office did not deny the report, sources in Jerusalem made clear that there has been no change in the prime minister’s policy on settlement construction and that there would be no second settlement freeze.
This is not the first time Meridor has called for a building freeze outside the major settlement blocs. In May, he told The Times of Israel that Jerusalem should work to gain legitimacy for those areas likely to stay in Israeli hands rather than try to expand construction to every hilltop.
“Don’t freeze it in Jerusalem or Ma’aleh Adumim or other places like this,” he said then. “But don’t build all over the place, because this is the most damaging of all the things that we are doing to ourselves in the world. Because people say: ‘You offer the Palestinians a state. But if you build there in every place, you don’t really mean it.’”
Meridor also cautioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday against simply building as large a coalition as possible, and only then deciding what the government’s goals were.
He called on Netanyahu instead to lay down the basic principles of the new government, and to include the parties that supported those principles. Meridor said the next coalition would be built upon four primary issues: diplomatic, security, economic policy, and the universal draft.
“If we just build a coalition based on the number of seats,” Meridor said, “we haven’t done a thing.”