The leaders of five settler municipal councils, who are all members of the Likud, appealed to their party’s cabinet ministers on Thursday to end negotiations with the Palestinians and instead invest in developing the Jewish presence in the West Bank.
In a letter, the council chiefs pleaded with the ministers to rethink Israel’s diplomatic strategy.
“For the past few years, we have seen how every dialogue with the PA demands a heavy price from the citizens of Israel and detracts from their security,” the letter said, and recalled a shooting attack Monday that claimed the life of one Israeli, Baruch Mizrahi, and injured his wife and son.
“The connection is direct and obvious,” the municipal leaders continued. “Terrorism rears its head every time the state of Israel and the Israeli government show diplomatic weakness.
“We, municipal leaders and Likud members, call on you to announce that murderers and terrorists will no longer be set free, and that there will be no dialogue with the PA, which has proved that it is an authority that supports, organizes, and educates to terror,” they wrote.
The US-brokered peace talks deteriorated rapidly at the end of March after Israel nixed a planned release of Palestinian prisoners and PA President Mahmoud Abbas applied for Palestinian membership in 15 international treaties, despite a commitment to abstain from taking such a step.
The settler leaders called on the government to engage in widespread construction throughout the West Bank.
“The power of such a step is to plant in the hearts of our enemies the recognition that our presence in this land is eternal and that we will remain here, and we will settle it, at any price,” they wrote. “At this time, the people of Israel and the whole world need a clear, strong national Zionist statement — the Land of Israel for the people of Israel.”
As for the possible backlash from the international community, the petitioners suggested stubborn defiance.
“We will not flinch from the nations of the world and threats for the future, security, and resilience of the state of Israel,” they wrote.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, together with US envoy Martin Indyk, were scheduled to meet on Thursday evening in an effort to revive peace talks.