Livni: Israeli Settlements Are to Blame for Failure of Talks

Echoing U.S. special envoy Martin Indyk's comments, justice minister tells Army Radio that 'settlement construction makes it impossible to defend Israel around the world.'

Olivier Fittousi

Justice Minister and chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni said Friday that the settlements are preventing Israel from reaching a resolution with the Palestinians.

"The settlers want to prevent us from living a normal life and do not accept the authority of the law,"  Livni told Army Radio on Friday.

Echoing U.S. special envoy Martin Indyk's comments Thursday night that settlements undermine negotiations and and could "drive Israel into an irreversible binational reality," Livni said that the settlers "are preventing us from reaching a resolution," adding that "settlement construction makes it impossible to defend Israel around the world."

Addressing the recent wave of anti-Arab hate crimes across the country, Livni said the perpetrators are a small radical core of West Bank settlers who do not respect the law or share Israel's values. "This is an extremist ideological group based in certain settlements in Judea and Samaria that doesn't adhere to any authority," she said.

Livni convened an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the spread of hate crimes in recent weeks. She and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said they would ask the cabinet to classify groups behind "price tag" attacks as terrorist organizations, opening the way for the possible use of detention without trial against members.

Meanwhile, the Nazareth District Court extended by a week the remand of the man suspected of committing the hate crime in Yokneam on Wednesday in which a Druze dentist's practice was vandalized with "Death to Arabs" graffiti.

In Jerusalem however, the courts decided to release Yitzhar resident Amichai Matoki, who is suspected of the arson attack on a mosque in the Israeli Arab city of Umm al-Fahm several weeks ago. Another Yitzhar resident, Eliraz Fein, who was arrested overnight Wednesday on suspicion of inciting violence against Israeli soldiers was released to house arrest.

"I'm all for stone throwing (at Jews of course, there is no question about Arabs) in some cases – even if the rock would cause the death of a soldier!!!," she wrote in a discussion in a closed email group, adding that she would back rock-throwers, if faced with public criticism, even when she thinks their actions are not justified.