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Liberman on settlements: Build, baby, build, but only after Trump sworn in

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman says that as a “pragmatic right-winger” he must “admit and confess, that in the past eight years, we haven’t built enough” in the settlements.

The defense minister also appears to walk back comments that he was willing to freeze construction outside of the blocs in exchange for increased building in the more populated areas.

He says comments last week about a 2004 understanding between George W. Bush and then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, in which the United States acknowledged that the settlement blocs will remain under Israeli sovereignty in a future peace agreement, was merely “an example,” and he won’t necessarily seek a moratorium in non-mainline settlements.

He attributes limited construction until now to “a failure to formulate a policy” vis-a-vis Washington on settlement construction.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on July 18, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on July 18, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Liberman urges Israeli officials to wait patiently until Donald Trump enters the White House, and says Netanyahu must reach new agreements with the president-elect on West Bank building.

He says that Israel must open a “blank” and “new page” with Washington.

Liberman also rails against the so-called Regulation Bill, which his party members supported in its preliminary reading last week.

This May 18, 2016 photo shows buildings in Amona, an Israeli settlement outpost in the West Bank, east of Ramallah. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
This May 18, 2016, photo shows buildings in Amona, an Israeli settlement outpost in the West Bank, east of Ramallah. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

The legislation does not help the settlement movement, “it harms the settlements,” he says. “It’s simply unnecessary.”

Liberman also says that the bills are compromising the government’s ability to find another solution to the impending demolition of the Amona outpost.

“I very much am in favor of the residents of Amona, and that’s why I won’t lie to them,” he says, emphasizing that the regulation bill won’t stop the court-ordered razing.

— Marissa Newman

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