Silvan Shalom and Netanyahu 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom warned Thursday that the ruling Likud Party could face a major upheaval if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agrees to a major diplomatic gambit that would propel the peace process with the Palestinians.
In an interview with Israel Radio, Shalom said that any dramatic moves “that contradict the principles of the Likud could cause quite a shock, perhaps even a split within the Likud.”
Shalom said that the government was prepared to begin negotiations without preconditions, though he added “that the ball was now in the Palestinians’ court.”
The minister added that the demand to base the negotiations on the ’67 lines and an Israeli freeze on settlement construction is unacceptable from Jerusalem’s point of view.
Shalom’s statements reflect growing apprehension within the Likud over any new developments on the diplomatic front. This past Tuesday, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon presented a formidable challenge to US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is due in Israel Thursday afternoon in an effort to move talks forward. Danon told his loyalists that from next week onward, diplomatic plans must pass a vote in the hawkish Likud central committee.
Danon, who is considered a Netanyahu rival dedicated to thwarting any potential moves toward a settlement with the Palestinians, won the ceremonial title of Likud convention chairman in Tuesday’s race, with an overwhelming majority of 86% of the vote.
“The party has been in a coma lately,” Danon told his loyalists at a muscle-flexing rally in Tel Aviv. “We will help lift up the Likud with energy like it had was when I was a child. We will restore the party’s soul.”
Danon said he was more committed than ever to the goal he set when he entered politics: preventing Israel from giving up land in Judea and Samaria. He mocked the Left’s ability to stop him from achieving that goal.
“The weak Left doesn’t know how to deal with ideas, principles or ideology,” Danon told the activists. “To maintain the Land of Israel, we need to do it with political work. We cannot afford to sit on our hands.”Gil Hoffman contributed to this story.