Ulpana outpost near Beit El 370 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
MKs on the Right and mayors of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria failed to
present a united front on how to handle the forthcoming peace talks with the
Palestinians at a meeting of the Knesset’s Land of Israel Caucus on
In a repeat of divides on the Right that harmed efforts to
prevent the 2005 Gaza Strip withdrawal and diplomatic deals with the
Palestinians, MKs and mayors bickered over whether to oppose the talks and how
to pressure Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to concede.
insistence of Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel, caucus co-chairman MK Orit
Struck (Bayit Yehudi) decided that the caucus, which has the support of nearly
50 MKs, would call for a boycott of key votes if construction in Judea and
Samaria is not expanded immediately.
“We need to tell the prime minister
as clearly as possible: If there is no building, there will be no voting,”
Struck said. “That needs to be our slogan. If Netanyahu says there is no freeze
as a precondition for talks, then we better see building – and a lot of
Mocking Netanyahu’s March 2012 “nuclear duck” speech to AIPAC,
Struck said that if what is happening in Judea and Samaria walked and talked
like a freeze, it must be a freeze.
Deputy Minister Ophir Akunis, a
former aide to Netanyahu, told Struck and the mayors that their approach to
encouraging Netanyahu to allow construction and not concede to the Palestinians
“It is wrong to come out of this room with a
decision to boycott a Likud-led government,” Akunis said. “Not only should we
not topple the government, we should strengthen it to encourage it to back the
policies of the Right.”
Turning to Struck, he said, “Are you really
voting against the state budget? I’m not in favor of that
Akunis and coalition chairman Yariv Levin clashed with Likud
MK Moshe Feiglin, who said the caucus should not only come out against
concessions in talks with the Palestinians, but also against holding the talks
“We are in favor of talking as long as there are no preconditions
and we know what we are seeking at the outset of the talks: Keeping all of the
land of Israel and all of the settlements, while obtaining security,” said
Levin, who co-chairs the caucus with Struck. “The prime minister needs to be
releasing tenders [for building in Judea and Samaria], not
The meeting was attended by 15 MKs, including Agriculture
Minister Yair Shamir (Likud Beytenu), and three deputy ministers. The most
surprising MK present was Elazar Stern of Hatnua, who supports the creation of a
Palestinian state, but favors building in settlement blocs.
unwilling to give up the normal lives of its people in Judea and Samaria,”
Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin told the caucus.
thinking is twisted. There is no reason for the world to think releasing
murderers advances peace, while building kindergartens harms peace,” he
Shamir warned against concessions that he said would be tantamount
to committing suicide at the negotiations.
He said it was too bad that
the caucus’s existence was essential.
“It is unfortunate that we need
such a caucus,” Shamir said. “France does not need a caucus for keeping France.”