W. Bank mayors plan their own freeze to protest moratorium

W. Bank mayors plan a fr

The mayors of several Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria have found a creative way to protest Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to freeze West Bank construction for 10 months. They will freeze their membership in the Likud and its central committee for that same time period. The Likud received more votes than any other party in Judea and Samaria in February's election. Many mayors of settlements are Likud central committee members, including Gush Etzion's Shaul Goldstein, Ariel's Ron Nahman, Ma'aleh Adumim's Benny Kashriel and Kiryat Arba's Malachi Levinger. Goldstein, who initiated the idea, said he regretted campaigning for Netanyahu and the Likud. "We voted Likud based on ideology, but for us, the country and our values are more important than our party affiliation," Goldstein said. "Netanyahu and most of his ministers are doing the opposite of what they promised during the campaign, so we will freeze our membership for 10 months and then reevaluate the party." Goldstein and the other mayors are waiting until after they meet with Netanyahu to announce their decision. They were supposed to meet with him on Tuesday, but the meeting was delayed due to the prime minister's illness. "We are waiting to hear reasons from Netanyahu not to leave the party," Goldstein said. Barring a change of heart due to the Netanyahu meeting, the mayors will freeze their membership and encourage the thousands of Likud members and hundreds of central committee members in Judea and Samaria to follow suit. Shevah Stern, who heads the Likud's Judea and Samaria branch, said Goldstein's idea was counterproductive to the cause of preventing the settlement freeze. "I think it's a terrible idea that will only harm the political struggle," Stern said. "I think more mayors should join Likud instead of leaving it. This is not the time for protest but for activity inside the Likud party and its central committee." Moshe Feiglin, who registered thousands of Likud members in Judea and Samaria, also slammed the idea. "I can't think of a stupider idea," Feiglin said. "This would only make Netanyahu happy. It's the best prize he could get for the freeze. Netanyahu's main problem with passing his plan to destroy Judea, Samaria, and the Golan is his own party. The only way to stop it is inside the Likud, so that front absolutely cannot be abandoned."