Likud ministers back PM’s compromise on outpost

Netanyahu receives vote of confidence from most of his ministers for plan to physically move structures in the Ulpana outpost.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
June 3, 2012 21:31
3 minute read.
Netanyahu speaks at Cabinet meeting

Our prime minister speaks at cabinet meeting 370. (photo credit: Pool)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu received a vote of confidence from most of his Likud ministers on Sunday for his plan to physically move structures in the Ulpana outpost while strengthening the settlement of Beit El.

Netanyahu sought legal approval for the compromise from Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Sunday night. His approval will determine whether Netanyahu will support legislation to legalize the outpost on Wednesday or vigorously oppose it.

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“There would be no need for the bills if Weinstein approves the prime minister’s solution,” a source close to Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon said. “The Likud ministers will support Netanyahu’s compromise. But if Weinstein does not approve, Netanyahu himself said he would vote for the bills and almost all the Likud ministers would too.”

A source close to Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat said she wanted to find a way for Ulpana residents to remain in their homes – and while Livnat was skeptical, she hoped Netanyahu’s solution would work.

Likud officials said the party’s ministers were divided into three camps. On the Right, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein has said he would vote for the outpost bills even if it would lead Netanyahu to fire him. On the Left, Government Services Minister Michael Eitan, Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor, and Ministerwithout- Portfolio Bennie Begin oppose the bills. In between, the rest of the Likud ministers are waiting for direction from Netanyahu and Weinstein.

The ministers faced unprecedented pressure on Sunday from right-wing groups inside Likud to vote for the outpost bills. Hawkish groups in the party led by activists Moshe Feiglin, Effi Eitam, Gershon Mesika and Shahar Stern, who have often sparred with each other, formed a unified campaign to try to save the outpost.

“A minister who does not support the outpost bill enables the destruction of a community and acts against ethics, justice and the values of Likud,” Feiglin said.

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“Such a minister would remove himself from the nationalist camp and I would not vote for such a person.”

Likud members received automated phone calls on Sunday asking whether they would change their mind about voting in the next primary for ministers who expressed support for Ulpana in the past, and now changed their minds or left the country to avoid the vote.

Regional Development Minister and Vice Premier Silvan Shalom is abroad and Transportation Minister Israel Katz will be in Holland at the time of the vote. Edelstein will return from the US in time for the vote.

Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin expressed doubt that Netanyahu would fire ministers who vote with their conscience in favor of the bills. He mocked the idea that the prime minister would fire half his cabinet.

Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz issued a statement Sunday criticizing the outpost bills but offering no opinion on Netanyahu’s compromise.

“The security and the future of Israel depend on reaching a diplomatic agreement and not an agreement legalizing what is illegal,” he said. “Only a diplomatic agreement can guarantee the future of the overwhelming majority of Jews living in Judea and Samaria.”

By contrast, former opposition leader Tzipi Livni, once Mofaz’s greatest rival in Kadima, posted scathing criticism of Netanyahu on Facebook.

“It should be taken for granted that court decisions are obeyed, even by prime ministers, even if it means evacuating homes,” she wrote. “Building 10 new homes for every one moved violates the idea of two states. Sending more citizens to the settlements means more people living with uncertainty about whether they will stay there after a diplomatic agreement.

“Adding more people to settlements will not add to our security. It will do the opposite, while harming the international legitimacy of the IDF to take action,” Livni added.

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