Haretz | Barak Ravid | 28 May, 2016

Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant said in a meeting with Jewish leaders in New York last week that the government’s policy is not to build in the West Bank and that he abides by it.

Galant, a member of Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party, said that due to the threat of the formation of a binational state, the government must take diplomatic initiative in the West Bank even without a Palestinian partner.

Galant, a member of the security cabinet, made the comments in a closed meeting with the heads of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Partial recordings of the meeting were carried by a newsletter sent out by Jewish Insider, an American news website. Haaretz has obtained full transcripts.

Galant was asked several times about construction in the settlements and gave an answer that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to confirm consistently over the past year.

“Basically – I am following the policy of the government and it is that we are not building in Judea and Samaria. But I am not the only one with the ability to build,” Galant said. “There are private people and other segments of the government that work according to different ministers.”

Galant said the solution to the settlement construction question had to be based on the understandings reached by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and former U.S. President George W. Bush. According to those understandings, construction should take place only in the settlement blocs and only based on natural growth.

After President Barack Obama entered office, the White House said it did not know of such understandings from the Bush administration. The secretary of state during the Bush years, Condoleezza Rice, also said there were no such understandings.

Galant expressed great concern over the implications of a continued freeze in talks with the Palestinians.

“Within 10 years we will have 7 million Palestinians and 7 million Jews – we understand it is a major event,” he said. “A solution with the Palestinians is an Israeli interest – we need it the sooner the better.”

Galant said Israel did not have a partner today on the Palestinian side, but this should not stop it from moving ahead.

“On the other hand there is a question of what happens if we take our hands off the stick and let this plane keep gliding. What will happen in a generation. We know the numbers,” he said.

“Those numbers are not very promising. A one-state solution is a very bad idea for Israel – we saw what happened in the Balkans …. Thinking about the future obliges us as a government to bring a solution even if the other doesn’t like it.”

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