Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu succeeded in preventing his
governing coalition from unraveling over the weekend following the
announcement of forthcoming negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
kept Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett satisfied by receiving a
commitment from the Americans that they would not say the talks would be
based on pre-1967 borders. That enabled Bennett to claim victory, despite Netanyahu agreeing to release dozens of terrorists from prison.
Receiving a commitment that the talks will be held discretely could
keep Bayit Yehudi in the coalition for an extended period of time, even
as Israel's chief negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, makes
serious concessions at Netanyahu's behest.
"As long as we are not
giving up our territorial assets, we are staying in the coalition," said
Bayit Yehudi faction head Ayelet Shaked.
and Space Minister Ya'acov Peri (Yesh Atid), who is the cabinet's most
dovish minister, hinted that if Bayit Yehudi left the government, Labor
could come instead.
"If God forbid there be a crisis in the
coalition, there is a majority for the peace process in the Knesset and
there will be a government that can continue it," Peri said.
But Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich said
her party would only join if a peace agreement had been reached with
the Palestinians and the Right leaves the government in protest.
"We would not want to be the reason peace is not reached," Yacimovich said.
a meeting with President Shimon Peres, Yacimovich pledged to defend
Netanyahu from the extreme Right in the Likud and the coalition. She
stressed that it was important to remember that the goal is not the
process itself but reaching an agreement.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud Beytenu) questioned the ability of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to lead negotiations
toward a peace agreement with Israel, saying that he had less control
over Palestinians than Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has control over
Syria at the moment.
"Just as nobody would seriously consider
giving Assad land in his current situation, it is impossible to
seriously think about transferring the control of territories to the
Palestinians," Katz said prior to entering the weekly cabinet meeting.
terror victims association Almagor intends to protest against releasing
murderers in several ways. It so-sponsored an Internet ad campaign with
Arabs praising Netanyahu.
Families of terror victims intend to
come to a special meeting of the Knesset Interior Committee on Monday.
Later in the week, they will pitch a tent outside Netanyahu's official
residence in Jerusalem, near where the Schalit family protested for the
freedom of their kidnapped soldier son Gilad.
The protest tent
will be called "A Place Under the Sun," the name of a book Netanyahu
authored, in which he criticized past releases of terrorists.