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Photo by: Moshe Milner GPO
Netanyahu faces coalition threats from both sides
By GIL HOFFMAN AND REBECCA ANNA STOIL
09/15/2010
PM returns from Sharm e-Sheikh to threats from both Right and Left to break up coalition.
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu returned from Sharm e-Sheikh on Tuesday to threats from both the Right and Left to break up his coalition.

Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, who previously was Labor’s most persistent advocate for remaining in the coalition, issued a warning to Netanyahu at a meeting of Labor’s Arab sector at Beit Berl College in Kfar Saba that was organized by MK Ghaleb Majadle.

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“We all want peace and hope that the talks will succeed,” Simhon said.

“This is why we entered the government. If the process fails and it will become apparent that there is no progress, there will no longer be a reason for us to remain in the government.”

Majadle said, “Netanyahu must decide whether he wants to be a historic leader or prime minister of the settlers.”

Labor chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak defended the prime minister at the event.

“There is an opportunity now and it’s important to take advantage of it,” Barak said. “I am convinced that our influence is more effective from inside the government than it would be from outside. I hope there will be a breakthrough. It depends on all the sides involved.”

On the right wing of the coalition, Habayit Hayehudi stepped up its rhetoric, threatening to pull out of the government if Netanyahu gave in to American demands to continue the freeze.

“Our version is very simple,” MK Uri Orbach said. “After the period of the freeze, [if] Jewish homes are not built in Judea and Samaria, there will also not be a Jewish home (Habayit Hayehudi in Hebrew) in the coalition.”

Orbach’s party chairman, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz, was more measured in his response to American reiterations that they expected Netanyahu to continue the 10-month-long partial building moratorium in Jewish communities in the West Bank.

Herschkowitz said that he intends to meet with the other heads of all of the coalition parties to make sure that support to end the freeze remains strong in the face of potential pressures.

“The freeze must be concluded in another two weeks, throughout Judea and Samaria, as the cabinet decided,” said Herschkowitz. “There is not a majority in the government to support any alternative scenario.”
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