Likud votes for new building

Poorly attended central c'tee meeting voices support for settlements.

likud mtg 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
likud mtg 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Likud central committee endorsed building in Judea and Samaria on Thursday at a meeting boycotted by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and attended by only four cabinet ministers.
The meeting was planned seven months ago and repeatedly delayed at Netanyahu’s request. The prime minister made clear to ministers that he would not look fondly upon their attendance.
“The Likud central committee strengthens and supports the residents of Judea and Samaria,” the proposal said. “The central committee supports building and developing throughout the Land of Israel, including in the Negev, the Galilee, Greater Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. The central committee calls on all its representatives, in all elected bodies, to act in accordance with this decision and further the development of the communities in Judea and Samaria.”
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The goals of the event’s organizer, MK Danny Danon, were to pressure ministers to oppose extending the 10-month West Bank construction moratorium when it concludes at the end of September and to strengthen Netanyahu ahead of his July 6 meeting in Washington with US President Barack Obama.
“It is important for people who live in Judea and Samaria and for those who live on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington to know that this is the policy of the Likud,” Danon said.
The ministers who attended were Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon, who chairs the central committee, Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, and ministers-without-portfolio Bennie Begin and Yossi Peled. Minister-without-portfolio Michael Eitan arrived when the event was over.
Begin was the only MK who addressed the crowd. He read the security cabinet decision that instituted the freeze, emphasizing the clause that said that construction in Judea and Samaria would resume at the conclusion of 10 months.
“On Succot, which is the festival of joy, the military injunction [enforcing the freeze] will end,” Begin said. “There will not be another injunction in its stead.”
While Netanyahu was not at the meeting, he was featured in flyers distributed at the event by the Likud’s Judea and Samaria branch.
“Judea and Samaria will not be Judenrein,” Netanyahu said in a quote from his election campaign highlighted on the flyer. “I will not evacuate settlements and will not establish a Palestinian state. I am not volunteering any withdrawal. I have never uprooted a single Jew – anywhere. The supreme test of any elected official is whether he keeps his promises to the public; my political colleagues and I have done this.”
Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria director NaftaliBennett said the central committee’s passage of the proposal was amoment of truth for Netanyahu and the government.
“If Prime Minister Netanyahu fails to comply with this decision by hisparty’s governing body, it will ultimately determine whether Israel hasbecome a banana republic of the United States or is an independentstate prepared to stand up for its own interests and the security needsof its citizens,” Bennett said.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, who attended the event, toldThe Jerusalem Post that holding the event at thistime was a mistake.
“There is no point in restating the obvious, that the Likud backs Judeaand Samaria, at a time when it can be interpreted as provocative by theworld,” Rivlin said.