Netanyahu decries Palestinian reconciliation, promises thousands of settlement homes


Maale Adumim

A view of a portion of the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a West Bank settlement that the Palestinians are reconciling “at the expense of our existence.”

He was referring to a meeting Tuesday in the Gaza Strip of the Palestinian Authority Cabinet for the first time in three years, part of a reconciliation agreement between the Fatah party of P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, which controls Gaza. P.A. Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah led the Cabinet meeting.

“We expect everyone who talks about a peace process to recognize the State of Israel and, of course, to recognize a Jewish state, and we are not prepared to accept bogus reconciliations in which the Palestinian side apparently reconciles at the expense of our existence,” Netanyahu said at his Likud Party’s meeting in Maale Adumim, a settlement of 40,000 located just east of Jerusalem.

“Whoever wants to make such a reconciliation, our understanding is very clear: Recognize the State of Israel, disband the Hamas military arm, sever the connection with Iran, which calls for our destruction, and so on and so forth. Even these very clear things must be clearly stated.”

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During the meeting, Netanyahu also announced that Maale Adumim would “forever remain part of Israel,” and promised to build thousands more apartments there, The Times of Israel reported.

Maale Adumim is largely expected to remain part of Israel under a peace agreement, though such action could prevent the Palestinians from having a contiguous state of their own in the West Bank.

The promise comes as Israel has said it would limit settlement construction to keep the Trump administration happy as it formulates a peace initiative.