Former Israeli President Shimon Peres said the government’s appropriation of West Bank land for
settlement is damaging talks for a lasting diplomatic accord
with the Palestinians.
“We have to agree not to continue the building of new
settlements while we are negotiating,” Peres said in a
Bloomberg Television interview in Cernobbio, Italy. “You cannot
quarrel and negotiate at the same time. So we have to agree on a
Israel last week announced it was declaring about 1,000
acres of territory south of Bethlehem as state property,
clearing the way for eventual construction of new settlements
there. The seizure was condemned by the Palestinians, the U.S.
and the United Nations as detrimental to the peace process.
Peres’s comments reflect the division in Israel over new
settlements and peace talks with the Palestinians. Israeli
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett last week defended the moves,
adding that a Palestinian state was “not working.” Finance
Minister Yair Lapid said the appropriation in the Gush Etzion
region was taken without cabinet approval and “causes damage”
The U.S. called on Israel to reverse the land seizures, and
expressed concern about reports of settlement plans in east
Jerusalem. Such measures are “contrary to Israel’s stated goal
of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the
Palestinians,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said
in an e-mailed statement.
Palestinians say Israeli construction in the battle-won
West Bank and east Jerusalem is a war crime that violates the
Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel says the settlements don’t fall
under the convention because the territory wasn’t recognized as
belonging to anyone before the 1967 war, in which Israel
prevailed, and therefore isn’t occupied.
To contact the reporters on this story:
David Wainer in Tel Aviv at
Flavia Rotondi in Rome at
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Dick Schumacher at
Stephen Kirkland, Vernon Wessels