JERUSALEM, Israel - Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu claims that if he is elected prime minister, he will commence building in the Jewish communities in the Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
Under heavy pressure from the Bush Administration, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert put a freeze on new construction in West Bank Jewish communities at the end of last year, ostensibly to advance the peace process.
But Netanyahu told Walla! News that such a freeze is discriminatory. He said, "I don't undersand why there can be natural growth in Arab neighborhoods, but not in Jewish neighborhoods."
The former prime minister proudly recalled his record of building new Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem while he was the country's leader.
"In Jerusalem, which is now being treated like a settlement, I built Har Homa, which protects Jerusalem from the south, and in addition, I also built the Ma'aleh Hazeitim neighborhood," he said.
The Likud party leader warned that Israel currently has no peace partner, and that the best that can be expected now is to make economic arrangements with the Palestinians, in hopes that they will one day be ready for peace.
"The other side [Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas] must recognize not only Israel's existence, but also our right to exist, and must impose this recognition on his countrymen," Netanyahu said in an interview with IsraelNN.com.
On Sunday, Netanyahu repeated his call for new elections. For more than two years he has consistently led in the polls as Israel's choice for the next prime minister.
Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Walla! News, IsraelNN.com