Netanyahu: US 90-day freeze proposal is not final

PM tells cabinet plan still being formulated by both sides; Ya'alon calls US offer "honey trap that will plunge us into another crisis."

Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday that that the proposal put forward by the US for a 90-day settlement freeze in exchange for UN support and military aid is not final.
"This proposal was raised during my talks with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. It is still not final; it is still being formulated by Israeli and the American teams."
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Speaking at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said "if and when it is complete, I will bring this proposal to the appropriate Government forum, which in this case is the Cabinet."
"In any case, I insist that any proposal meet the State of Israel's security needs, both in the immediate term and vis-à-vis the threats that we will face in the coming decade," Netanyahu explained.
Netanyahu told the cabinet about his meetings with various US officials last week.  "I met with US Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. I also spoke and met with various leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives. I met with senior US economic and media figures, including the top analysts and commentators in the US," Netanyahu said.
The prime minister said "In all of these meetings, I raised – first and foremost – the need to stop the Iranian nuclear project. This is the greatest threat to both world peace and the security of the State of Israel."
In a forum of Likud ministers that met prior to the cabinet meeting, Moshe Ya'alon called the American proposal a "honey trap that will plunge us into another crisis with the Americans in the future, in three months or maybe even before then."
Deputy Knesset Speaker Danny Danon (Likud) also entered the debate and held an emergency round of consultations with key cabinet members to shore up their support for settlers.
Danon especially focused on ministers that have voiced their opposition an additional freeze such as Benny Begin, Limor Livnat and Moshe "Boogie" Yaalon.
During his conversations Danon reminded the ministers that, "a second construction freeze has never been, and never should be, a viable policy option for the Netanyahu Government.  A few more F-16s cannot be a replacement our long-held ideals, commitments and promises to the citizens of Israel."
Coalition head Ze'ev Elkin said he believes the majority of Likud ministers and MKs will oppose Netanyahu's proposal to approve the American plan. Referring to the international political assistance offered by the US in exchange for the extended freeze, Elkin said that it is possible the assistance could be of more harm to Israel than it is helpful.
Elkin also expressed concern that Israel would be the recipient of heavy pressure from the United States to reach an agreement with Palestinians on borders during the three-month building freeze. Referring to the American offer for an additional 20 fighter jets, he said that Israel should accept the military aid.
Elkin, together with MK Ariye Eldad (National Union) sent a letter on Sunday to the right wing of the government in a call to oppose the US freeze proposal.
The pair called on MKs to "stand with them in this testing time, to oppose every additional freeze and to demand a renewal of building as the cabinet decided." The letter continued, "No security package can be as worthy as the security provided by the hills and Jordan valley."
Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) also put forward his view on the offer and laid out conditions under which his Knesset faction would support it.
The conditions that Shas demanded were: That building in Jerusalem resume immediately; that US President Barack Obama send Israel a letter, in which he promises that he will allow building once again in the settlements; that Netanyahu guarantees building will resume once again in three months.
Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan said, “The unilateral ten-month freeze accomplished nothing other than to make the notion of freezing the rights of our families to build a pre-condition for peace,” he said.  “If Israel is forced into another freeze, our nation will be entering into a trap where we are already addressing final status issues while the Palestinians have never made even a single concession. ”
Habayit Hayehudi MK Uri Orbach said that he will work to have his party withdraw from the coalition if the government renews the building freeze. Orbach said, "Habayit Hayehudi will not be a partner to Netanyahu and the Likud's freeze obsession."