(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this morning (Thursday), 3 December 2009, in his Tel Aviv office, for approximately two hours, met with the leaders of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Those participating in the meeting voiced their views on the Cabinet’s 25 November 2009 decision to suspend construction and the stop-work orders issued pursuant thereto, as well as on the way in which they are being implemented.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "The Cabinet decision is the optimal decision for the State of Israel in the complicated diplomatic situation in which we presently find ourselves, and given the various challenges facing us. We made this tough decision in order to advance Israel’s broader interests. This step makes it clear to the main elements around the world that Israel aspires towards peace and is serious in its intention to achieve peace, while the Palestinians refuse to begin peace negotiations. This step makes it clear who is refusing peace."
Prime Minister Netanyahu added: "This order is one-time only and it limits the duration of the suspension. There are nine months and three weeks left. Once the suspension has expired, we will continue to build. I want to make it clear: The future of settlement will be determined only in a permanent peace agreement."
Regarding the manner in which the orders are being implemented, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that, "The orders are not easy for you; neither are they easy for me. We will work so that they are implemented in such way as to make it as easy as possible on the public. Wherever there are unnecessary difficulties – we will reduce them. I intend to pass your remarks along to Defense Minister Ehud Barak. At the same time, I ask you to speak to him directly. It is important that he hear you. Our policy is to implement the Cabinet decision while giving your concerns maximum consideration."
Prime Minister Netanyahu concluded: "This was a very important meeting. I have noted the points you raised regarding the implementation and I will speak to the Defense Minister Barak about them. We will give you answers in the coming days. I would like you, as leaders, to sit at the steering wheel together with us. There is one item that is not on the agenda: You may demonstrate, protest and express your opinions, but it cannot be that you will not abide by decisions which have been made according to law. The true answer is dialogue and finding solutions in the limited time that has been allotted. While I do not intend to not uphold the Cabinet decision, Defense Minister Barak and I will implement it via dialogue with you. We will do our utmost to pass, together with you, the remaining nine months and three weeks. We need to cooperate and get through this period together. Instead of creating an atmosphere of crisis, we should all focus on emerging from the period of the suspension and overcoming it together. Let us surmount the problems together, some of which were foreseen and some of which came to light during the implementation. We are only a few days into the process and I would ask for your patience."
Prime Minister Netanyahu said that after consulting with Defense Minister Barak and the professional team on the issues that were raised at the meeting, answers and solutions would be formulated within the shortest time possible.