Yuli Edelstein 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday rejected an effort by Public
Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein to get the cabinet to authorize new building
in the settlement blocs.
Although he knows he is not alone, Edelstein was
a solitary voice at Sunday’s meeting of Likud ministers when he asked Netanyahu
to order Defense Minister Ehud Barak to authorize new
Barring that, Edelstein asked the prime minister to strip
Barak of his power to authorize settlement building and to create instead a
ministerial committee for Judea and Samaria that would permit such
Other Likud cabinet ministers issued statements last week
in support of settlement construction, including Finance Minister Yuval
Steinitz, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livat, Transportation Minister
Yisrael Katz, Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom and Vice Prime Minister Moshe
But on Sunday, “ministers preferred to keep silent,” Edelstein
According to Edelstein, Netanyahu said it was important at this
time to look at the larger picture and the challenges that Israel
Edelstein said he told the prime minister that the Palestinians
had no intention of halting their provocative activity.
They have the
backing of the UN Security Council, as shown by the almost unanimous support
they garnered there on Friday in an attempt to condemn Israel for “building a
kindergarten” in the West Bank, on the same day that hundreds of pro-democracy
activists in the Middle East were lying dead or wounded in the streets,
He said he planned to continue bringing up the issue at
the ministerial meetings, because the situation in which new construction was
frozen in larger settlements such as Betar Illit, Ma’aleh Adumim, Ariel and
Efrat was intolerable.
“I think there is an understanding on that on the
part of many ministers,” Edelstein told The Jerusalem Post
. “Some were
frightened by the timing of today. I hope they will start raising their
Separately, later on Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for
Legislative overwhelmingly rejected a National Union-sponsored bill to apply
Israeli law to the settlements, which are currently under military
Such legislation would make it difficult to impose a freeze on West
Bank Jewish construction.
Right-wing lawmakers have sought to pass such a
bill since the 15th Knesset that sat from 1999- 2003.
chairman Ya’acov Katz said that even though the ministerial committee rejected
the bill, he plans to bring it to the Knesset plenum on Wednesday.
said he understood that it was unlikely to pass, but that it was important to
put parliamentarians on record with regard to a bill that Netanyahu had
supported in the 17th Knesset when he was the opposition leader.
the weakness of the prime minister that unfortunately he is not doing what he
promised before the election,” or acting on beliefs that he displayed in the
past, Katz said.
Given that an election is likely within the next year or
six months, voters should be able to see which lawmakers kept or did not keep
their word, Katz added.