Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said that while his government is ready to go to great lengths to make peace with the Palestinians and other Arab neighbors, he and his ministers won't be fooled and won't be "suckers."
Speaking at a pre-Rosh Hashanah event for Likud activists at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds, Netanyahu's remarks were in response to concerns that his acquiescence to Western demands for a settlement freeze marks the end of the Zionist vision in the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria, even if the Arabs do not reciprocate.
Netanyahu said he will not allow international pressure to halt the normal flow of life in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and that regardless of what future concessions he may make, he will never allow those areas to become a Hamas stronghold as Gaza did following the Israeli withdrawal there.
Netanyahu's speech came just a day after US State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly said Israel should stop building new homes for Jews on the eastern side of Jerusalem, as well as in the rest of Judea and Samaria.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also saw Netanyahu's new willingness to implement a temporary settlement freeze as an opportunity to up the ante, and declared that all Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria are illegal, according to his interpretation of international law.
In fact, it was international law, in the form of the San Remo Resolution passed in 1920 by the League of Nations, precursor to the UN, that legalized "close Jewish settlement" in the region that today encompasses Israel, Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan.