yaalon office 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Likud ministers on Wednesday added their names to the list of those against the renewal of a second settlement construction freeze in the West Bank.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon, Vice Premier and Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom and Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin added their signatures to a letter by the Judea and Samaria regional council which calls on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to renew the moratorium. The letter has been signed by 14 Likud members so far.
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As a result, a majority of Likud ministers are opposed to a renewal of the freeze. Of the remaining 12 ministers, three are expected to be in favor.
"We, Likud faction members, are expressing our opposition to the settlement construction freeze in Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria," said the letter. "The decision of the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet from November 25, 2009 should be implemented, in which it was decided that 'with the end of the suspension [freeze], the previous government's policy on construction in Judea and Samaria will be implemented.'"
In an interview with Israel Radio on Wednesday, Ya'alon harshly criticized the US proposal
to extend the freeze by three months.
If Israel accepts the requested moratorium extension, it will be a surrender to the Palestinian position and a declaration of Israel's inability to stand by it principles during negotiations, said Ya'alon.
He added that he found it hard to believe that the US would provide firm guarantees that building could continue in the neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and that the new freeze extension would be the last one, and, therefore, whether there would be an agreement with the US.
Ya'alon also stated in the Israel Radio interview his unqualified opposition to a continuation of the building freeze.
"If there are no red lines, we will enter negotiations from a weakened position," he said.
Minorities Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman took a diametrically opposed position to Ya'alon on Wednesday, saying that Israel must accept the outlines of the previous building freeze in order to quickly reach negotiations with the Palestinian Authority over security and border issues and to avoid international isolation. The comments were made in an apparent reference to calls for the government to allow continued building in Jerusalem in the event that a freeze is passed for building projects in the West Bank.
If the government does not act, it may find itself with an Arab
nation-state west of the Jordan River, Braverman stated in an interview
with Israel Radio.
added during the interview, if Netanyahu did
not overcome domestic political considerations to implement the freeze,
he might endanger the continued existence of the State of Israel into