On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the Israeli Cabinet. According to the premier, this is the lesson of the developments in Tunisia: No peace agreement without stable and solid security arrangements. Excerpts from his speech:
One of our goals is to achieve peace and security with our neighbors in the region. The region in which we live is unstable. Everyone sees this today. We see this at several points throughout the Middle East. I would say that there is a great island of instability in the geographic expanse in which we live. We hope that stability will be restored. We hope that there will be quiet and security. We are monitoring developments.
If there is one conclusion, one clear lesson that arises from all that we see around us, it is that we need to lay the foundations of security in any agreement that we make. We cannot simply say 'We are signing a peace agreement', close our eyes and say 'We did it' because we do not know with any clarity that the peace will indeed be honored. We would increase any agreement's chances of being honored by including within it stable and solid security arrangements.
But there is another reason why we insist on peace agreements with a very strong security infrastructure and this is because peace can unravel. It could be that there are regime, and other, changes that may not be expected today, but which could happen tomorrow. Therefore, this Government's policy is to bind peace and security together because security ensures peace and protects the state of Israel should it unravel.
Amidst the talk of peace and security, settlers report that construction in the West Bank is continuing at a rapid pace, with 2,000 new homes under construction and 13,000 more in the pipeline. Next week, a plan to build 1,400 housing units in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood will be presented to the city's planning and construction committee.
City Council member Meir Margalit offers analysis:
Israel's attitude in the beginning of 2011 is worrying. We started the year aggressively with home demolitions, the Shepherd Hotel affair and now this. It seems as though someone in the government thinks (US President Barack) Obama is weak and that now is the time to promote such provocative plans. I hope this will wake up the Americans.
Despite the Ministry of Tourism's recommendations against expansion of the Western Wall prayer site e into the area known as Rabat al-Kurd, the government decided to allow Jewish people to enter on Saturday. The Islamic Waqf of Jerusalem has warned of a "strong response" if the area is opened to Jewish worshippers.