Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that that the proposal put forward by the
US for a 90-day settlement freeze in exchange for UN support and
military aid is not final.
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"This proposal was raised during my
talks with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. It is still not final;
it is still being formulated by Israeli and the American teams."
at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said "if and
when it is complete, I will bring this proposal to the appropriate
Government forum, which in this case is the Cabinet."
case, I insist that any proposal meet the State of Israel's security
needs, both in the immediate term and vis-à-vis the threats that we will
face in the coming decade," Netanyahu explained.
Netanyahu told the cabinet about his meetings with various US officials
last week. "I met with US Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of
State Hilary Clinton. I also spoke and met with various leaders of the
Senate and the House of Representatives. I met with senior US economic
and media figures, including the top analysts and commentators in the
US," Netanyahu said.
The prime minister said "In all of these
meetings, I raised – first and foremost – the need to stop the Iranian
nuclear project. This is the greatest threat to both world peace and the
security of the State of Israel."
In a forum of Likud ministers that met prior to the cabinet meeting,
Moshe Ya'alon called the American proposal a "honey trap that will
plunge us into another crisis with the Americans in the future, in three
months or maybe even before then."
Deputy Knesset Speaker Danny Danon (Likud)
also entered the debate and held an emergency round of consultations
with key cabinet members to shore up their support for settlers.
Danon especially focused on ministers that have
voiced their opposition an additional freeze such as Benny Begin, Limor
Livnat and Moshe "Boogie" Yaalon.
During his conversations Danon
reminded the ministers that, "a second construction freeze has never
been, and never should be, a viable policy option for the Netanyahu
Government. A few more F-16s cannot be a replacement our long-held
ideals, commitments and promises to the citizens of Israel."
Coalition head Ze'ev Elkin said he believes the
majority of Likud ministers and MKs will oppose Netanyahu's proposal to
approve the American plan. Referring to the international political
assistance offered by the US in exchange for the extended freeze, Elkin
said that it is possible the assistance could be of more harm to Israel
than it is helpful.
Elkin also expressed concern that Israel
would be the recipient of heavy pressure from the United States to reach
an agreement with Palestinians on borders during the three-month
building freeze. Referring to the American offer for an additional 20
fighter jets, he said that Israel should accept the military aid.
together with MK Ariye Eldad (National Union) sent a letter on Sunday
to the right wing of the government in a call to oppose the US freeze
The pair called on MKs to "stand with them in this
testing time, to oppose every additional freeze and to demand a renewal
of building as the cabinet decided." The letter continued, "No security
package can be as worthy as the security provided by the hills and
Jordan valley."Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) also put forward his view on the
offer and laid out conditions under which his Knesset faction would
The conditions that Shas demanded were: That building in Jerusalem
resume immediately; that US President Barack Obama send Israel a letter,
in which he promises that he will allow building once again in the
settlements; that Netanyahu guarantees building will resume once again
in three months.
Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan said, “The
unilateral ten-month freeze accomplished nothing other than to make the
notion of freezing the rights of our families to build a pre-condition
for peace,” he said. “If Israel is forced into another freeze, our
nation will be entering into a trap where we are already addressing
final status issues while the Palestinians have never made even a single
Habayit Hayehudi MK Uri Orbach said that he
will work to have his party withdraw from the coalition if the government
renews the building freeze. Orbach said, "Habayit Hayehudi will not be a
partner to Netanyahu and the Likud's freeze obsession."