Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said on Sunday that the Palestinians are using the issue of settlement construction in order to distract the world from the so-called Quartet of Middle East mediators' demand to renew peace talks, according to Israel Radio.
Speaking during a tour of Gilo for foreign journalists, Ayalon added that construction plans for the east Jerusalem neighborhood are not a matter of "political timing," but rather a response to the needs of residents.
Israel on Sunday formally accepted the Quartet's proposal for re-starting negotiations with the Palestinians, following a meeting between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his senior ministers.
"Israel welcomes the Quartet's call for direct negotiations without pre-conditions with the Palestinian Authority, which was already suggested by US president Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, even though Israel has a number of reservations which it will bring up in the negotiations."
Israel received rebukes from European and American diplomats over the plans in Gilo, with the US calling the move "counter-productive" and Europeans, including European Foreign Affairs chief Catherine Ashton, saying it was the kind of "provocative" action that should be avoided as per the Quartet's statement.
Ashton called on Israel to "reverse" its decision to build 1,100 new housing units in Gilo.
The government, however, has insisted that construction in the Jewish neighborhoods of Gilo is standard Israeli policy, and that Gilo is not a settlement nor should construction there be considered settlement development.
The statement called on the PA to enter negotiations without delay.
A fellow blogger, Elder of Ziyon, confirms this tactic by showing multiple maps and pictures of Gilo in relation to the Green Line and Arab villages, and shows that Gilo isn't a settlement but rather a neighborhood on area that would be kept as Israel in any peace agreement.
But once again, the Palestinians must always seek an excuse as to why they can't enter into negotiations.
"It's Israel's fault, they want to actually negotiate, instead of giving up everything in preconditions! This isn't something we will accept!"
"It's Israel's fault, they're building homes for residents of Israel in areas that would remain Israel in any peace agreement!"
"It's Israel's fault for building settlements! The settlements are the obstacle to peace! That's why terrorism against Zionists started in the 1920's, and the 1948 and 1967 war, and many acts of terrorism, took place before 1967 - before any settlements!"
"It's Israel's fault for refusing to give into our lunatic demands that Israel commits suicide! Israel doesn't want to negotiate!"
"Israel is the obstacle to peace! Our incitement of hatred on Palestinians T.V., newspapers, indoctrination of youth, declaring all of Israel as "occupied," refusal to accept any peace talks - including the very generous Olmert offer in 2008 -, training our children to become terrorists, throwing stones at Israelis which led to the death of Asher Palmer and his infant son, have nothing at all to do with the failure to establish peace!"
Speaking of Danny Ayalon here, check out his excellent video, "The Truth about the West Bank," to learn more about the West Bank and the settlements.