Attias: Ovadia Yosef to decide how Shas votes on freeze

Construction and housing minister says party will oppose freeze or abstain from vote; wants assurances freeze would not include J'lem.

November 16, 2010 09:16
2 minute read.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias on Tuesday said that his Shas party will either vote against a proposed 90-day extension of the moratorium on settlement construction or they will abstain from such a vote, depending on the opinion of the faction's spiritual leader. Attias's comments came in an interview with Israel Radio.

"We will not support the proposal. We will either oppose it or abstain from voting, depending upon the decision of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef," said Attias.

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Attias said that Shas is interested in building in Jerusalem and ensuring that any freeze would not include a moratorium on construction of homes in the capital.

Attias told Army Radio on Tuesday that Rabbi Yosef had not made his final decision because the US had not given Israel its final proposal, laying out benefits the US would give Israel in return for an extension of the freeze.

A Shas abstention from the cabinet vote would likely give Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a narrow majority in favor of the freeze.

As Netanyahu tried to sway opposing cabinet members to support the agreement he is hammering out with the US, MKs from his own Likud Party met in the Knesset on Monday to stop him.

Those present included: Edelstein, coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin, Danny Danon, Yariv Levin, Tzipi Hotovely, Miri Regev and Haim Katz.

They agreed to formulate a “lightning campaign” intended to sway Shas not to abstain in the vote on the deal when Netanyahu brings it to the 15- member security cabinet.

Danon told the Post that he had written a letter to Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in which he called upon the rabbi to “check if it is really true” and to “ask to see in writing” American commitments regarding continued building following the end of the proposed three-month moratorium.

The anti-freeze Likud MKs believe that the two Shas ministers with votes in the security cabinet are leaning in opposite directions, with Interior Minister Eli Yishai tending toward opposing the freeze and Attias leaning toward supporting it.

The Likud opponents also want to erase Netanyahu’s narrow margin of support among the seven security cabinet members who are expected to support Netanyahu when he brings the deal to a vote.

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