PM fights to keep freeze power

Knesset to vote on settlement bill ahead of Netanyahu's US visit.

Netanyahu arrives at cabinet meeting 311 (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Netanyahu arrives at cabinet meeting 311
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is fighting a proposed bill in the Knesset Sunday which aims to give the Knesset itself the power over settlement freezes in the West Bank. The struggle coincides with Netanyahu's upcoming meeting with US President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein called on Netanyahu to "present a firm stand against continuing the freeze, as he has committed. The freeze ends in September."
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Netanyahu noted to the cabinet that the building freeze has not yielded direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which was the original goal of the freeze.
"I have been ready to meet with [Mahmoud Abbas] since this Government's first day in office,"he said. "Whoever desires peace will hold direct peace talks.  I hope that this will be one of the results of my trip to Washington."
The Knesset bill, submitted by MKs Karmel Shama (Likud) and Uri Ariel (National Union), is intended to prevent the renewal of settlement construction at the end of the current 10-month moratorium.
It was unclear as to how all the members of the coalition would react to the bill.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was quoted as saying that in September the bulldozers will return and will work with full motivation.
The Likud Central Committee unanimously approved the bill and stated that the party supports the West Bank settlements, and is in favor of building and development of in all parts of the country.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in an interview Friday that there has been no changes in the decision to freeze building in the West Bank until September.
Netanyahu stated his willingness to discuss the end of the government's building freeze in the West Bank with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.