Right-wing MKs vows to fight freeze

Meeting set to discuss preventing extension of building moratorium.

Ramat Shlomo construction 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Ramat Shlomo construction 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Knesset Caucus for the Land of Israel will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to decide on steps to prevent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from extending the 10-month settlement construction freeze that is set to end on September 26.
Caucus co-chairman Arye Eldad (National Union) said he would suggest that the coalition MKs that are part of the group rebel against the coalition by leaving Knesset committees ahead of votes that are important to Netanyahu and insist on voting according to their conscience against bills supported by the coalition.
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The lobby’s other co-chairman, coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin, will oppose such steps.
Eldad’s proposal comes after Netanyahu stymied an effort to advance a bill that would have required Knesset approval for continuing the freeze. The bill, which was sponsored by MKs Uri Ariel (National Union) and Carmel Shama (Likud), fell by a vote of 8-5 in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday.
Netanyahu pleaded with Likud ministers at his party’s weekly ministerial meeting to oppose the bill. Six answered his call and joined two Labor ministers in voting against the bill: Bennie Begin, Gideon Sa’ar, Michael Eitan, Dan Meridor, Yossi Peled, and Yaakov Neeman.
Begin said he opposed the bill because of his views on the role of the parliament and that his opposition was technical and not ideological.
Eldad accuses Israel Beiteinu ministers of "deserting the battle"
But the bill still could have passed had the five Likud, Shas, and Habayit Hayehudi ministers who voted for it been joined by three from Israel Beiteinu and Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, who were absent.
Eldad accused the three Israel Beiteinu ministers of “deserting the battle,” while other MKs accused Netanyahu of buying the ministers’ votes.
Channel 10’s Nadav Perry reported that in a conversation with Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, Netanyahu promised additional funding for the party’s ministries when the budget is finalized in two weeks. Israel Beiteinu denied the report, and Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver insisted that she voted for the bill, even though the five votes in favor were claimed by ministers from other parties.
“When September comes, the ministers will miss this bill,” Shama said after the vote. “I don’t understand why ministers on the Right opposed the bill but majority rules, for better or for worse.”
Lieberman, who is still angry about being left in the dark about Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben- Eliezer’s meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu last week, kept Netanyahu anxious until the last minute on Shama and Ariel’s bill and on Labor MK Amir Peretz’s minimum-wage bill, which also fell on Sunday but could have passed with Israel Beiteinu’s support.
Danny Danon and other Likud MKs who oppose continuing the freeze said they would join the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip in lobbying ministers to prevent the freeze from being renewed.
Several ministers received phone calls on their way into the cabinet meeting with recordings of themselves making statements opposing a continuation of the freeze. The calls were the work of settlers’ council director-general Naftali Bennett.
A ringtone of Netanyahu pledging to resume building in Judea and Samaria at the conclusion of the freeze was made available online on Sunday.
Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.