Pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu is mounting from within his own party to stick to his word and end the building freeze in Judea and Samaria on Sept. 26. Earlier this week, four Likud Knesset Members threatened to vote against the 2011-2012 state budget if the freeze continues. One of the four, Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely, spoke to Israel National News to explain her position.
"Personally I thought it [the freeze] was a big mistake to begin with," said MK Hotovely. "When you're going to negotiate, the last thing to do is to talk about borders, or to say that from a certain point, the settlement, this wonderful thing that the Jewish nation has built since 1967, will be under a freeze. We believe that Jews have the right to live everywhere on our land, so I don't see how this decision can promote the negotiation or peace. The result is obvious. Just as we get to the end of the freeze date, the Palestinians will just start to think about sitting with us, and we see that they are now asking for more. Now we are talking about accountability. If our leaders can't promise certain things and afterwards pay back what they promised, then that is a big problem."
Hotovely explained this week's announcement. "We said to the Treasury that we won't support the year's budget, and that we will vote with the coalition if such a crucial promise is not kept. I think that as a Knesset Member, the main way I can make my party uphold its promises is to say that I won't raise my finger to vote for the other policies of the government if it doesn't keep its promises."
Hotovely isn't planning to quit the Knesset or the Likud if things don't go her way. "There are many ways for a parliament member to keep influencing the government. Just quitting is not something a Member of Knesset should do. We should fight for it, and make sure that the promise to keep on building will become a reality."
When asked if Netanyahu's views have changed, Hotovely said, "I thought that the Bar Ilan speech [in which Prime Minister Netanyahu declared he could recognize a Palestinian Authority country] showed a change. The Likud was never willing to accept the idea of a Palestinian state. Most of the Likud members are still against that. The Prime Minister is trying to please all the players, but I am sure that he is not willing to give up Israeli land. He can't make the mistake of the Disengagement. At the moment, the talks are going toward a dead end. What should happen, though, is that the Prime Minister must declare his red lines. He must speak about the Israeli side. He must say that we want to keep the settlements in Judea and Samaria."
Does MK Hotovely still support her Prime Minister? "He has not said that he will continue the freeze, so at the moment there is no reason for me not to support him," she said. "I trust him enough. He knows he must be accountable to the public and I am sure he will keep doing what he promised. Governments are tested on what they promise."
MK Hotovely made it clear that she doesn't support the current talks. "It's not just myself. Most of the people in Israel don't really believe that this thing will lead to any kind of peace, even a cold peace like we have with Egypt. Israelis went through a great disillusionment after what happened after the Disengagement. No one wants to see what happened in Gaza happen in Judea and Samaria. The Palestinians are sticking to their demands on Jerusalem and the refugees, things we cannot accept. We must start thinking out of the box. We must rethink the conflict and look for alternatives to the 'Two-State' solution."
When asked if she supports the idea of "land for peace" in theory, she said, "You can't speak theoretically in the Middle East. I truly believe that the State of Israel and the Land of Israel belong to the Jewish Nation, and I don't belive that the Palestinians have any kind of national right to it. But even if it weren't for my religious beliefs about the Land of Israel, I think that most people don't see any kind of a land for peace solution in the coming years."