Daily Israel Report

Ministers Accept Settlement Freeze

Minister Yuli Edelstein, among the more right-wing of the Likud’s elected officials, praises Netanyahu for his Yesha settlement policy.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 9/6/2009, 6:33 PM

Minister Yuli Edelstein, thought to be among the more right-wing of the Likud’s elected officials, praises Netanyahu for his Yesha settlement policy.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to announce a six-month freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria (Yesha), in keeping with U.S. President Barack Obama’s demand – but only after building 500 more units. Minister Edelstein, as well as his more centrist colleague Minister Michael Eitan, feels this is the best approach, under the circumstances.

Following the Sunday morning Cabinet meeting, Edelstein told Arutz-7’s Hebrew newsmagazine, “Compared with all sorts of rumors and headlines of the past few days, we had a nice surprise today. There will be an immediate approval for 500 new units, and this means that the construction freeze that we have had in recent months has been broken – and I hope this is just the beginning.”

Pressure from Obama
“My concerns are not about Netanyahu,” Edelstein said, “but rather about the pressure being exerted on the Government of Israel and on Netanyahu. I hope that the Likud will help prop him up, and that he will stand strong, and that in the end we will withstand the pressures and emerge victorious."

"We must deal with the American pressure wisely," said Edelstein, a resident of Gush Etzion in Judea. "Just to bang on the table and say that we’re building 30,000 units and that we don’t care what anyone says – that’s not a way to deal with it. On the one hand, we have to not give in to unrealistic demands, such as a total freeze, or stopping construction that has already begun, or not giving any permits at all for new construction. We will not give in on these issues... Also Netanyahu’s clear stand that Jerusalem is totally not for discussion is important, because the Americans want us to talk about Jerusalem, too.” 

Eitan: We're Not Alone
Minister Michael Eitan said more clearly: “The Likud has its platform, but there are two little problems: One is that the other parties in the coalition don’t necessarily agree with us, and the other is that the countries of the world don’t necessarily agree with it... In order to keep our partnership with the United States, we sometimes have to give in to some things that we don’t like – including, yes, a construction freeze.”

Dayan: Three Homes in Each Town?
Yesha Council head Danny Dayan does not accept this line of thinking. “The fact is,” he said on Sunday, “that the government headed by the national camp has frozen construction throughout all of Yesha, and has put the entire area of Judea and Samaria – all the way up to the Green Line – on the negotiating table.”

Dayan said that Netanyahu’s offer to build 500 units in all of Judea and Samaria amounts to “an average of three new homes in each town. Just in Maaleh Adumim or Beitar alone there should be 500 units or more!”