Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday that there was no reason why building should not restart in the major West bank settlement after a 10-month freeze expires next month.
The determination to continue building is likely to alarm Palestinians, who are pushing for an Israeli promise to continue the freeze ahead of peace talks in Washington, due to start on September 2.
Palestinian negotiators have repeatedly threatened to walk out of talks if the freeze is broken.
“We cannot punish tens of thousands of citizens who have served in the army and live in legal communities,” Lieberman said. “We should take natural growth into consideration, as did the previous administration.”