Bayit Yehudi won’t support the 2013 budget in the Knesset unless construction
projects in West Bank settlements are fully funded, Construction and Housing
Minister Uri Ariel warned on Tuesday.
His words marked the first possible
coalition crisis with the power to disband the newly formed government, which
has until mid-June to pass the budget, the approval of which is dependent on
majority support from the 120- member plenum.
Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu’s 68-member coalition won’t have enough votes to pass the budget
without Bayit Yehudi’s 12 mandates.
If Netanyahu can’t pass a budget, his
government falls and new elections are called.
“I turned to the prime
minister today and warned him that if the 2013 budget doesn’t include full
funding for building projects in Judea and Samaria, including those decided upon
in reaction to the Palestinians’ unilateral statehood bid at the United Nations
[this past fall] and additional projects, Bayit Yehudi will consider its
coalition agreement as having been violated, and it won’t support the budget
unless a solution is found for the promised funds,” Ariel said.
threat comes as the country is under international pressure not to advance West
Bank settlement projects, including those that were direct responses to
unilateral Palestinian statehood efforts at the United Nations, such as the
unbuilt area of Ma’aleh Adumim known as E1.
That pressure has only grown
stronger now that the Arab League has modified its 2002 peace plan to include
minor land swaps – a move that is seen as a possible prelude to renewed
Palestinians have also told the US that they won’t attempt
to pursue Israel at the International Criminal Court as long as Israel refrains
from moving forward on the E1 project of 3,500 new Jewish homes.
heads of two coalition parties, Finance Minister Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid and
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni of Hatnua, both declined to comment. The Prime
Minister’s Office could not be reached for comment either.
chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) said that “Likud Beytenu is obligated to the
settlement enterprise. We will insist that the new budget strengthens the
settlements and ensures their development.”
Ariel’s spokesman said in
response that the minister would not have made such a threat unless he had
reason to believe that funding for West Bank settlement-building was in
Niv Elis contributed to this report.
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