Ariel: No settlement funding, no budget support

Bayit Yehudi threatens not to support budget unless PM ensures West Bank settlement building is fully funded.

Efrat settlement 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner )
Efrat settlement 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner )
Bayit Yehudi won’t support the 2013 budget in the Knesset unless construction projects in West Bank settlements are fully funded, Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel warned on Tuesday.
His words marked the first possible coalition crisis with the power to disband the newly formed government, which has until mid-June to pass the budget, the approval of which is dependent on majority support from the 120- member plenum.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s 68-member coalition won’t have enough votes to pass the budget without Bayit Yehudi’s 12 mandates.
If Netanyahu can’t pass a budget, his government falls and new elections are called.
“I turned to the prime minister today and warned him that if the 2013 budget doesn’t include full funding for building projects in Judea and Samaria, including those decided upon in reaction to the Palestinians’ unilateral statehood bid at the United Nations [this past fall] and additional projects, Bayit Yehudi will consider its coalition agreement as having been violated, and it won’t support the budget unless a solution is found for the promised funds,” Ariel said.
His threat comes as the country is under international pressure not to advance West Bank settlement projects, including those that were direct responses to unilateral Palestinian statehood efforts at the United Nations, such as the unbuilt area of Ma’aleh Adumim known as E1.
That pressure has only grown stronger now that the Arab League has modified its 2002 peace plan to include minor land swaps – a move that is seen as a possible prelude to renewed negotiations.
Palestinians have also told the US that they won’t attempt to pursue Israel at the International Criminal Court as long as Israel refrains from moving forward on the E1 project of 3,500 new Jewish homes.
The heads of two coalition parties, Finance Minister Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni of Hatnua, both declined to comment. The Prime Minister’s Office could not be reached for comment either.
But coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) said that “Likud Beytenu is obligated to the settlement enterprise. We will insist that the new budget strengthens the settlements and ensures their development.”
Ariel’s spokesman said in response that the minister would not have made such a threat unless he had reason to believe that funding for West Bank settlement-building was in danger.
Niv Elis contributed to this report.