Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon met Tuesday with the leaders of the Judea and Samaria settler community and said that a future agreement with the Palestinians was unlikely to include the eviction of settlements. He added that Israel should focus on "creating deterrence, not peace deals."
"We have somehow become accustomed to the fact that just hearing the word 'peace,' just hearing it, instinctively spells ceding territory," Ya'alon was quoted by the Walla news website as saying during the gathering, which was held in the Shomron Regional Council community of Barkan.
"The Middle East is about interests, not signed agreements, and interests are based on carrots and sticks. In the Middle East it is actually carrots and clubs," he said. "Judea and Samaria are Israel's homefront and therefore we must make them stronger."
Ya'alon said that "contrary to popular belief, the demographics are in our favor."
The heads of the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization of municipal councils of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, all attended the gathering. Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika thanked Ya'alon for his words, but said that the settlers were "worried about the things we don't know about the talks. We ask you -- please protect the Land of Israel."
Mesika's deputy Yossi Dagan further asked the defense minister to "remove the obstacles hindering settlement expansion. They make no sense and their sole purpose is to interfere with the settlement enterprise."