Settlements hold key to Israel's survival: Dutch MP
Israel must keep on building settlements in the occupied West Bank to defend itself against the forces of Islam out to destroy the Jewish state, visiting ultra-rightwing Dutch MP Geert Wilders said.
According to a transcript of a speech late on Sunday at a Tel Aviv conference organised by a far-right Israeli party, Wilders said settlement building was a "strategic" necessity essential to Israel's survival.
"For the sake of its own survival and security, Israel needs defendable borders," he said.
"A country that is only 15 kilometres (nine miles) wide is impossible to defend," he said, referring to the shortest distance from the West Bank to the Mediterranean -- often referred to as Israel's "narrow waist."
"That is the strategic reason why Jews need to settle Judaea and Samaria," he said, using the biblical term for the West Bank.
Wilders, who has repeatedly been accused of inciting anti-Islamic hatred, was visiting Israel at the personal invitation of MP Arye Eldad, head of the ultra-nationalist Hatikva party.
Islam, and not Israel, was to blame for the conflict in the Middle East, he charged. It "conditions Muslims to hate Jews. It is a religious duty to do so. Israel must be destroyed because it is the homeland of the Jews."
Newly-relaunched direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians ran aground at the end of September after the expiry of a temporary Israeli ban on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank.
The Palestinians say they can not negotiate while Jewish settlers build on land they want for a future state, but until now Israel has refused to consider a new freeze.
The international community considers all Jewish settlements built on occupied Palestinian land to be illegal.
© 2010 AFP