Settlement freeze bill voted down

Ministerial C'tee rejects proposal ahead of Netanyahu's US visit.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
July 4, 2010 18:21
2 minute read.
Netanyahu arrives at Monday's cabinet meeting in J

Netanyahu arrives at cabinet meeting 311. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The Ministerial Committee on Legislation voted down a proposal which would give the Knesset veto power over future settlement building freeze in the West Bank on Sunday afternoon.

Eight ministers from Likud and Labor opposed the proposal, including Ya'akov Neeman, Yitzhak Herzog, Benny Begin, Gideon Sa'ar, Dan Meridor, Michael Eitan, Shalom Simhon and Yossi Peled. Yuli Edelstein and Gilad Erdan from Likud, Ya'akov Margi and Meshulam Nahari from Shas and Daniel Hershkowitz from Habayt Hayehudi voted in favor of the proposal.

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The bill would have drastically limited Netanyahu's power over settlement growth, requiring Knesset approval for future settlement construction.

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"In the coming month of September, the Israeli government will long for a bill of this sort," Likud MK Carmel Shama declared Sunday. Shama, along with National Union MK Uri Ariel, proposed the bill. "It is beyond me to understand the logic of those who voted against the bill," Shama added.

The rejection of the proposed bill comes ahead of Netanyahu's meeting with US President Barack Obama this week, who may demand a continuation in the settlement construction freeze beyond the September expiration date.

Earlier Sunday morning, Netanyahu noted to the cabinet that the building freeze has not yielded direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which was the original goal of the freeze.

"I have been ready to meet with [Mahmoud Abbas] since this Government's first day in office," Netanyahu said. "Whoever desires peace will hold direct peace talks. I hope that this will be one of the results of my trip to Washington."

In response to the US efforts to encourage direct discussions between the Israelis and Palestinians regarding the building of settlements, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat explained in an interview with a Palestinian radio station on Sunday that the US' intention to upgrade current peace discussion between Palestinians and Israelis to direct talks was failing due to Israel's actions.

"Israel refuses to give up the building in the settlements and to agree to renew the negotiations that were impeded by this stumbling block and, therefore, has failed in the intention to transform the proximity talks into direct contacts," Erekat said.


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