Danon to press PM on Obama's settlement freeze demand

Danon to press PM on Oba

At Monday's Likud faction meeting, MK Danny Danon plans to demand that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu present his policy regarding US President Barack Obama's insistence on a construction freeze in the settlements. Israel has said that it would not stop ongoing work on some 3,000 new homes in West Bank settlements, but would place a temporary moratorium on the issuing of new construction permits. Danon, who is a vocal supporter of settlement construction, told The Jerusalem Post that Netanyahu's policy regarding a freeze had been vague, and that the party had a right to know more specifically where the prime minister stood. Danon is among a number of Likud parliamentarians who are pushing Netanyahu to stand firm against any American pressure for a settlement freeze. He has been collecting signatures to convene the party's central committee so it could come out in support of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. On Wednesday, hours before US special envoy George Mitchell was due to arrive in Israel, Danon, with the help of settler councils and World Likud, organized a party rally in the Revava settlement in Samaria. Thousands of activists, settlers and party members sat on white plastic chairs that had been set up next to a temporary stage on the brown dusty hilltop. "Tonight Mitchell is arriving to insist on a freeze. We are coming here and saying, 'Be strong; we support you,'" said Danon. The Likud leadership had taken a dangerous turn to the left starting with Netanyahu's speech at Bar-Ilan University earlier this year in support of a Palestinian state and continuing with his talk of not issuing new construction permits, said Danon. Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, told the crowd that the Jewish population of Judea and Samaria had hit the 300,000 mark and that he hoped that in years to come, one million Jews would live in its communities. Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika called on Netanyahu to be faithful to his party and its voters. Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein and MK Tzipi Hotovely also attended the rally. To help drum up additional support within the Likud, Danon said that World Likud planned to start offering party members weekly Friday bus trips into Judea and Samaria.