Touring the sights of planned settlement expansions in the West Bank, Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai insisted that the US could not do anything to stop the new construction, and insisted that “there is no escape from our crucial security need to continue with this construction.”
Minister Yishai’s comments were seconded by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, who was also on the tour. Rivlin insisted that “if we don’t build here, the Palestinians will.” The construction in the long-sought E1 settlement is part of the “natural growth” promised by the Israeli government.
The settlement would connect Maale Adumim to Jerusalem, and would virtually cut the West Bank in half, making the prospect of a contiguous Palestinian state as sought by the Obama Administration virtually impossible. The Bush Administration criticized the E1 plan as “unhelpful,” however Yishai insists they privately gave their approval and wants the Obama Administration to do the same.
The consequences of the expansion to the peace deal may be moot at any rate, as several high profile Israeli officials have ruled out any further talks in recent days, following a Fatah conference which blamed Israel for the death of former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat.