(photo credit: Courtesy)
Likud MK Danny Danon announced over the weekend that he and fellow MKs had scheduled meetings with key coalition members to enlist support in opposing any construction freeze in the settlements, even if, as reported last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu plans to approve several hundred units first.
Danon told The Jerusalem Post Saturday night that the plan includes meetings with very senior members of Shas, two Israel Beiteinu MKs, including one considered part of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's inner circle, and members of Habayit Hayehudi.
Unlike other Likud MKs who still are attempting to pay lip service to Netanyahu's authority, Danon said that "the prime minister has apparently forgotten that he stands at the head of a nationalist government. With all of the secret agreements that he is making over our heads, we will soon find ourselves at a point of no return in terms of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria."
Within coalition partner Labor, however, the prime minister's move was welcomed. Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Friday that "the Labor Party sees in a positive light the actions and path of the prime minister to renew the diplomatic negotiations."
But it was not only within the coalition that Netanyahu continued to face criticism for what many believed was a double promise - to the Americans to stop building, and to the Israeli Right to speed up the same building.
"Netanyahu is acting with unprecedented charlatanism both toward his own coalition as well as toward the best of our friends," said Kadima spokesman Shmulik Dahan. "All that remains is to see which charlatanism harms Israel more.
"This behavior, an attempt to lie to everyone all the time, is fated for great failure and all possible results involve certain harm to Israel's diplomatic and security interests," he continued. "Israel needs leadership with initiative that will lead the way with vision, and not one that drags Israel into falsehoods."
A day after the media reported that Netanyahu planned to approve hundreds of new homes in the West Bank before considering a brief settlement freeze, opposition leader Tzipi Livni said on Friday that the government did not know where is was headed and was playing a dangerous game of trying to please everyone.
"Israel's leaders, the elected government, in my opinion, still hasn't made a choice between two different outlooks. One, Jewish existence in every part of Israel, and two, the existence of a Jewish democratic state," she said in a speech at an IDF pensioners' event.
"In the absence of such a decision and vision, the government doesn't have the ability to take the correct measures, and so it finds all sorts of processes that may keep it in power, but it's not clear what direction it wants to take," she continued.
"Today it reached is peak - building and freezing. 'We'll build now and freeze later, in the meantime we'll build, and afterwards we'll freeze,' or all sorts of strange ideas of this nature that stem from the fact that actually, this government doesn't know where it wants to go, and so it's trying to please everyone - those outside a little, these here a little by building now - but the result is very bad in my eyes.
"In our time, we built in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs, they never liked it, but it was never the core of the debate between Israel and the world," continued Livni. "That was because they believed us and understood that our way was not one of biding time and trying to survive.
"With these attempts to survive and please everyone, we won't preserve Israel's interests and what is important to us, and we won't progress at all," Livni said.
MK Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor) said that the "plan to approve the building of hundreds of units effectively annuls the freeze.
"This is about two moves that cancel out one another, and it shows that Netanyahu is trying to have his cake and eat it, too," he said in statement. "He should just be careful that it doesn't get stuck in his throat."
He said issuing new building permits was "unnecessary and damaging.
"I fear that issuing new permits will foil the next step - a settlement freeze that would build confidence and allow negotiations to resume," he said.
Also Friday, Government Services Minister Michael Eitan stressed the importance of Likud unity, after more than half the faction accepted an invitation to speak at Wednesday's hawkish rally in favor of expanding settlements amid the reports of a planned freeze.
"The Likud faction is united regarding everything that concerns the Jewish people's right to the territory of the land of Israel, although there are different evaluations on the scope that the government and its leader have to exercise this right," he said in a statement.
"But past experience proves definitively that any division, rebellion or split leads to the fall of governments of the nationalist camp, which support settlement in Judea and Samaria, and brings about governments interested in wiping this camp out."
Jerusalem Post Staff and AP contributed to this report.