Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who came to power promising to be the settlers’ advocate, officially became their adversary on Sunday when they changed their relatively moderate tone and “declared war” on him.

The trigger to the settlers’ change in tactics was Netanyahu’s hint at Sunday’s Likud ministerial forum that the 10-month construction moratorium could partially continue. The settlers warned him that if the freeze continues, his premiership would not.

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“If Netanyahu continues the freeze, we would see it as a declaration of war,” said Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika. “We would do everything possible to topple the prime minister, because from our standpoint, there would be no difference between Netanyahu, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak, and Balad.”

The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria will intensify its anti-freeze efforts Monday with new ads featuring key Likud Central Committee members urging Likud ministers to keep their promises. The council has adopted the tactics of Likud activist Moshe Feiglin to move the Likud rightward by signing up 7,000 new party members from Judea and Samaria in a campaign called “Right to the Likud.”

“Instead of apologizing, Israel should be telling the world that every house in Judea and Samaria is another brick in the West’s defensive wall against radical Islam,” council director-general Naftali Bennett said.

“The entire world is testing the Netanyahu government’s credibility. If the government continues the freeze directly or indirectly, it would be complete surrender, and in such a situation, the government would cease to represent its people and will no longer have a right to exist.”

National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau went further, suggesting that continuing the freeze would actually harm the peace process, because Netanyahu’s credibility would be lost. He said the world needed to understand that even though the coalition was strong, Netanyahu would be vulnerable politically if he lost the public’s trust.

“Credibility is the key to make the talks successful,” Landau said.

“You cannot say that continuing the freeze beyond 10 months is a red line and then retreat when the Palestinians threaten to leave the talks,” he said. “That would encourage them to make the same threat again over any given issue in the future, including their demand to eliminate any Jewish presence from Judea and Samaria.”

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel should politely turn down Obama’s request to continue the moratorium.

“Obama recommended to Israel to reconsider continuing the freeze, and we respect the request but the security cabinet made a decision and it is still intact,” Steinitz said.

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) fiercely attacked Netanyahu’s hint that the freeze could partially continue.

“Nobody should be surprised when a spineless politician gives in,” Eldad said.

“Netanyahu’s commitment to renew construction at the end of the moratorium is worth about as much as garlic skins, as is the political believability of all of the Likud ministers, who will make peace with the continuation of the moratorium – partial or complete.

“In complete opposition to their statements. Netanyahu and the group of spineless sheep that surround him are bringing about the establishment of an enemy state in the heart of the country.”

Likud MK Danny Danon added that, “Netanyahu should have reminded Obama that Ariel and Beit El are not American cities, and that he has no mandate to decide to stop building in Judea and Samaria.”

Mattot Arim spokesperson Susie Dym said her organization had 20,000 activists who could generate hundreds of fast responses to what she termed “wayward politicians who did not honor campaign promises and take good care of the Jewish people.”

Netanyahu received support for his position from Labor ministers and Minister-without- Portfolio Michael Eitan, who said that it is important to take into consideration how a renewal of building will look to the international community.

“Israel’s diplomatic needs are completely different than they were in the past,” Eitan said.

“Between a continuation of the freeze and provocative settlement in every place possible there are intermediate ways that will allow the renewal of building in certain places without harming the negotiations.”

Minorities Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman added that “endangering the talks by building during the freeze would be a historic mistake.”

Kadima MK Nahman Shai, usually one of his party’s most vocal MKs on foreign affairs issues, said that it was not by chance that he and his fellow party members remained silent throughout the day Sunday.



“The immediate response was not to respond in order not to make it look as if he was giving in to Kadima. As long as Netanyahu is acting in the way that Kadima determined – – which was never his way before – why should I jump on his head? “If I feel that he is beginning to zigzag, I won’t let him escape. Sometimes reactions are reactions and sometimes non-reactions are also reactions.

It was a tactical consideration,” explained Shai.

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