Hours after former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must choose between satisfying American demands or the members of his party, Likud MK Danny Danon launched a campaign to emphasize opposition to Netanyahu’s West Bank building moratorium.
In an interview with Army Radio, Indyk reiterated many of the sentiments that he expressed in an opinion piece published in The New York Times
, but added that Netanyahu’s “problem is not [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman or [Interior Minister Eli] Yishai but within the Likud Party itself.” Lieberman and Yishai are chairmen of Israel Beiteinu and Shas, respectively.
“If I am the problem, then I am very proud to be part of the problem,” responded Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud) in an interview with The Jerusalem Post
. “As far as I remember, regarding predictions that I made about the outcomes of [diplomatic] processes in which Indyk participated in, I and not he turned out to be right.
“I would ask our friends – and I do mean friends, without any implied sarcasm – to deal more with international affairs and less on analysis of Israeli domestic politics,” continued Edelstein. “It would certainly add to our mutual esteem. Just as I would not imagine going on American television and analyzing the relations between the White House and the Congress, I would hope that Israel’s friends would deal more with an active pursuit of a return to negotiations, and I think that they should take more seriously the Israeli point that one needs to come to the negotiation table without preconditions or intermediaries.”
Shortly after Indyk’s interview, however, Danon opened a campaign that seemed to emphasize Indyk’s statements. The freshman MK and head of World Likud set up a virtual hour glass to count down the weeks, days, hours and minutes until September 26, 2010 – the day the 10-month settlement housing-start freeze put in place by the cabinet is set to end, at www.dannydanon.com/he/. The clock can be downloaded to computer desktops and mobile phones to serve as a screen saver and will soon appear on popular online news sites.
“This is a reminder to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we are counting down the days and hours until the end of this mistaken building freeze,” Danon said. “The prime minister promised the members of the Likud Party that on the 26th of September we will resume building in these important communities. We are eagerly awaiting that day.
“We know that the American administration will begin pressuring the prime minister in the beginning of May to extend the freeze, and we hope to counter this effort by helping him remain firm in his commitment to the residents of Judea and Samaria and to the principles of our history and his movement.”
Danon later blasted Indyk for calling on Netanyahu to “choose between
his party and the voters who elected him to office, and the policies of
the current US administration.
“Ambassador Martin Indyk’s unprecedented intervention in Israeli
internal politics is unacceptable and out of line,” Danon said. “It is
clearly part of what has become an orchestrated drumbeat of
vilification spanning three US administrations: those of Jimmy Carter,
Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. I call on all parties in the Knesset, be
they inside or outside the government coalition, to unanimously and
forcefully reject this campaign.”