Akunis: "We said in simple Hebrew that the freeze would end in 10 months, but unfortunately the Americans didn't get it."
By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN, REBECCA ANNA STOIL
Ministers and MKs accused US President Barack Obama on Sunday of causing an unnecessary crisis between Israel and the Palestinians by insisting on a West Bank construction moratorium that did not accomplish anything.Several Likud ministers and MKs attended an annual rally Sunday night at the succa of Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz in Moshav Kfar Ahim, that attracted more than 2,000 guests. The Likud politicians praised Netanyahu for apparently keeping his promise to end the freeze on time and took turns bashing Obama.“I am glad that Obama called Israel the homeland of the Jewish people in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly last week,” Katz said. “I am sure he knows that places like Hebron, Shiloh and Beit El are part of the homeland and that therefore we must be able to live there and build there.”Katz revealed at the event that he had authorized the paving of the road between Kiryat Arba and Hebron.MK Ophir Akunis, a former Netanyahu spokesman, was also critical of Obama.“We said in simple Hebrew that the freeze would end in 10 months,” Akunis said. “It was understood in Hebrew, and it should have been understood in English as well, but unfortunately the Americans didn’t get it. Obama should not have called for continuing the moratorium in his speech at the UN.”While Netanyahu and his aides were still pondering a compromise that could keep the Palestinians at the negotiating table without continuing the freeze completely, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat told the activists at Katz’s event that there was “no room for a compromise.”AdvertisementEarlier on Sunday, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Tzahi Hanegbi told Army Radio that “the freeze came about because of the amateurishness of the Americans.”Hanegbi said that in his UN speech, “Obama again raised the expectations of the Palestinians to heights that would make it hard to bring them back down.”There were also politicians from both the coalition and opposition who complained about Netanyahu’s behavior and blamed him for the impasse.“The lack of a decision [regarding renewing the moratorium] on the part of the government is itself a decision,” complained MK Taleb a-Sanaa (United Arab List-Ta’al). “The Israeli government chose settlements instead of peace, violence and conflict instead of quiet and security, preferred to make peace within the coalition instead of between peoples and citizens, sacrificed the chances for peace upon the altar of political survival, and preferred the good of the settlers over peace and the good of all citizens.”At the other end of the political spectrum, MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) suggested that the government’s intentions at the end of the freeze were exactly the opposite scenario.“The end of the moratorium only speeds up the Netanyahu government’s race to establish the Palestinian terrorists’ state.Building a few hundred houses in this situation is a superficial celebration. Netanyahu is trying to stupefy the right wing, and at the same time that he ends the moratorium officially, he is busy destroying the settlement of Judea and Samaria in practice.”National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau fired off a letter to Netanyahu in which he complained that the prime minister had failed to discuss the 10-month-long building moratorium with the security cabinet, citing the moratorium as one of a number of key issues upon which the prime minister did not consult with what is supposed to be his inner circle of ministers.In his letter, Landau, one of the most right-leaning ministers in the government, called on Netanyahu to hold a session of the selective cabinet in which ministers could be briefed on and discuss the implications of any renewal of the moratorium “in light of the risks involved, including a dangerous deterioration to serious confrontations.”Landau, a member of the cabinet, complained that he and his associates had not been consulted on a wide range of critical issues, including the Iranian nuclear program, and adding that even when they had been, “important questions arose but did not receive answers.”
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