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      Likud Nationalists to Fight Bibi’s Building 'Thaw-Freeze'

      Netanyahu and Barak are approving 500 more houses in Judea before freezing new building, which MK Hotobeli says the Likud faction is against.
      By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
      First Publish: 9/7/2009, 8:57 AM

      Israel news photo

      Most of the Likud’s 28 Knesset Members, including several Cabinet ministers, are opposed to the prime minister's proposed building freeze, despite the expected approval to build 500 new houses, MK Tzipi Hotobeli stated.

      The government “will have to provide answers. I will not accept a whitewash," said the novice MK, who has become a political force in her own right as a strong proponent of a Jewish presence in Judea. She told the Hebrew-language Arutz-7 website that she and most of the Likud faction are not impressed by the expected announcement on Monday that Defense Minister Ehud Barak will sign the papers to approve 500 housing units in Judea before closing the door on all new building for Jews in the area.

      The new construction is expected to be approved only for areas where there is a relatively large concentration of Jews, such as Maaleh Adumin and Gush Etzion. All of the new units already have been approved by other authorities but were frozen because they lacked Barak's final signature.

      “I am in direct contact with leaders in Judea, and there is an immediate need to build 2,500-3,000 units for natural growth; 500 is not enough,” MK Hotobeli stated. She added that senior Likud members, including Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, and several ministers, such as Gilad Erdan and Moshe Yaalon, are opposed to the freeze.

      Erdan, Minister for Environment, warned Monday morning against policies that would “turn Gush Dan into Sderot” and create a situation in which Arabs could fire rockets into Tel Aviv from nearby areas in Judea. However, he cautioned against any attempt to topple the Netanyahu government, a move he said would be self-defeating.

      Information Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Sunday that most ministers back the proposed building freeze.

      MK Hotobeli has invited faction members for a meeting on Wednesday, similar to a previous conference she has called, but she insists she is not “rebelling” against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Her style has been to focus on ideology and not the political manipulations that generally are the trademarks of Israeli parties.

      “We promised the public not to approve a building freeze,” she said. "This is a part of our democratic obligation. It doesn’t matter what the world, including the Palestinian Authority, says. Continuing building is in the national interest and is not just for the residents of Judea,” which includes the areas of the Jordan Valley, the Judean Desert and hills and the area of Samaria, north of Jerusalem.

      “We have to make it clear to the world that our historic and national rights belong to the People of Israel on the basis of the Bible and promises of the Almighty. That is why we were elected. We have to know how to place borders and red lines at the moment of truth and we have arrived at that moment,” she said.