Israeli foreign minister has voiced support for illegal settlements on Palestinian land, calling for the resumption of construction projects in the occupied West Bank.
“From September we must resume normal life here,” Avigdor Lieberman said during a tour of West Bank settlements on Monday, referring to the expiry of a partial, 10-month settlement freeze that Tel Aviv enforced in late November.
“We do not have any intention to change the demographic situation or to create a provocation, but only to provide a normal life for the people that came here under the policies of government,” The Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying.
Lieberman and nine members of his rightist Yisrael Beiteinu party who accompanied him on his tour, gave their support to the unauthorized outpost of Bruchin, saying Israel had not done enough when it came to what he called illegal Palestinian construction.
During the four-hour visit, Lieberman repeatedly underscored the need for new construction to resume. He also planted a tree in Itamar settlement, which is located outside Israel’s separation barrier.
Lieberman’s visit of West Bank settlements comes just ahead of an Arab League vote Thursday which will decide whether Arab leaders should back US pressures for a shift from the ongoing indirect "proximity talks" to direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.
The Palestinian Authority has dismissed the calls, saying agreements must be secured on key issues in the current talks before it returns to the negotiation table with Israel.
But Lieberman ruled out any further concessions with respect to settlement construction, saying he would oppose any more gestures "with all my might.”
The remarks come in contrast to a ruling by International Court of Justice, the legal arm of the United Nations, which condemns all the settlements Israel has built on occupied Palestinian land as illegal under international law.