Experts: Netanyahu has no justification for extending moratorium on settlements

Experts: Netanyahu has no justification for extending moratorium on settlements

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 30 / Trend, U.Sadikhova /

If the Israeli Prime Minister will try to extend the moratorium on the construction of the Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, it can shake his coalition government's stability. Experts says arguing that a 10-month ban on construction of the Jewish buildings in the Palestinian territories has not led to progress in the peace negotiations

"Since he [Benjamin Netanyahu] received nothing in return except more problems with Turkey and with the Palestinian side, he sees no need to discuss this subject," the president of the Russian Institute for Middle East Studies Yevgeny Satanovsky told Trend over phone.

Netanyahu called the Palestinians' requests "unrealistic" at a meeting with the Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos held the day before in Jerusalem," the Haaretz newspaper writes.

Netanyahu justified this by the coalition government's collapse, if such a decision will be taken.

According to Satanovsky, Netanyahu's statements show that the adopted decision on the settlements is final given the fact that the previous concessions in an attempt to resume negotiations with the Palestinian side were unsuccessful.

"Since it's is useless to speak with the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, he justified it by the coalition's internal problems," the Russian expert beleives.

Extension of the 10-month moratorium, which expires Sept.26, is one of the requirements of the Palestinian authorities in order to resume direct peace negotiations with Israel.

Netanyahu accepted the ban on settlements, which, however, didn't concerned East Jerusalem, in order to get rid of the pressure from abroad, primarily from the U.S., and unblock the peace ceased two years ago.

However, at that time the Palestinian administration considered these steps insufficient, and refused to negotiate until Israel suspends all settlement activities, putting forward the demands to discuss delimitation of the borders of the future Palestinian state, how they were before the 1967 war.

Experts believe that Netanyahu has no enough reason for extending the moratorium, with which other parties of his government will agree. The basis of Netanyahu's coalition is right-wing parties supporting the interests of the 300,000 Jewish settlers, as well as left Labour Party "Avoda", headed by Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Satanovsky says that without receiving concrete results from the Palestinian leadership in these last ten months Netanyahu's attempt to extend the moratorium will lead to problems within the coalition, which can cause early elections and creation of more right-wing government.

"Those who don't now want to see Avigdor Lieberman [head of right-wing Israel Our Home party] as a foreign minister can see him as a defense minister and later prime minister. Netanyahu also doesn't want to retain the post," Satanovsky said.

The last internal political crisis in Israel related with the corruption scandal of the then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, has led to the collapse of a moderate government and early elections in February 2009.

According to Gershon Baskin, Israeli Jerusalem Post newspaper's commentator, to extend the ban on expansion of settlements is possible only if Netanyahu is confident in the Palestinians' consent to begin direct negotiations. Otherwise, the coalition parties will simply leave the government, he believes.

"Netanyahu can leverage of the settlement freeze if there is real sustain of the negotiations going on and he can tell his government that let's give the Palestinians another chance, but if there is no progress as it was the last seven month, then nobody, including him will discuss the settlement freeze," head of the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) Baskin told Trend over phone.

Now Netanyahu's government headed by the right-wing Likud Party is quite stable, and any statements on instability is protection from the European and American pressure, Israeli analyst says.

A freelance adviser to the Israeli minister of information and the diaspora Ilya Vasilyev also agrees with him.

"Against a background of the last coalitions this government is enough stable, as during one and a half years of activity it has not lose in any single voting, and has not faced problems except the 10-month moratorium," Vasilyev, an expert of the State Duma of Russia for relations with the Israeli Parliament told Trend.

Regarding the future of the settlements after the expiration of the ban, Vasilyev believes that the situation cannot just change given the constant new developments in the region.

"If any party will withdraw from the government, it doesn't mean its collapse. Perhaps, any formulation will be found allowing the coalition to continue, even if the moratorium will be extended," Vasilyev said

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