If Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu manages to push through an extension of the building freeze in Judea and Samaria, he may save himself a confrontation with U.S. President Barack Obama – but he is likely to find himself in another fight, closer to home.
Likud Mks who are circulating a letter against extending the freeze say that they are prepared to make Netanyahu's life very difficult if the freeze extension does take place.
“We are prepared to do everything within our legislative power to prevent the freeze – and if the freeze does pass, we are prepared to do everything within our legislative power to protest,” said a spokesperson for Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely, one of the most vocal of a number of Likud MKs who signed the letter and agreed to speak with Israel National News.
In the letter, Likud MKs tell Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that Israel must turn down the U.S. demand for an extension of the building freeze in Judea and Samaria. The MKs signing the letter demand that Netanyahu “stand up for Likud principles and prevent this terrible move.”
The letter reminds Netanyahu of his promise not to renew the freeze, saying that “there is no reason to violate this promise.” The letters was first signed by Likud MKs Hotovely and Yariv Levin, and many other Mks have signed on.
The adds that the freeze extension will bring even more pressure on Israel and force the country to cross several “red lines,” putting Israelis in mortal danger. “Such violation of red lines is dangerous and extremely harmful to Israel's diplomatic and national standing,” the letter says.
The spokesperson for Hotovely said that she and MK Levin are members of “the group of seven” MKs who met Monday night to discuss what they would do if Netanyahu ignored the letter. None of the Mks or their spokespeople was willing to say they would quit the Likud or take other “extreme action, but they did talk about other measures.
A spokesperson for MK Danny Danon, for example, said that “we aren't worrying yet” about fallout from a failed attempt to prevent the freeze. “For now, we are working on getting as many MKs and ministers as possible to sign the letter,” the spokesperson said. But if Netanyahu ignores the letter and pushes through the freeze with the help of Labor and Shas, Danon “is not likely to leave the Likud.”
MK Ayoub Kara spoke to Israel National News in a similar vein. “The first freeze didn't accomplish anything, and neither will the second one,” he said, adding that “in any event I will remain in the Likud and push the Prime Minister to do the right thing.”
MK Levin's spokesperson said that the task of the moment was to spread the word among Likud Mks against the freeze. “We expect to be able to get at least half the the Likud's MKs and ministers on board. We can then go to Netanyahu and tell him that the party does not support him.” That, hopefully, will be enough to convince the Prime Minister not to push the freeze forward.
And if he does? “Then we may have to think about a more serious reaction,” the spokesperson said, without specifying what that reaction might be. In a statement, though Levin hinted that Likud unity could be at risk. “Our signatures on the letter are witness to the opposition of the majority of the Likud to a freeze extension. Ensuring unity in the Likud requires immediate halt to this process,” the statement says – implying that that unity could suffer if the freeze did go through.
MK Hotovely's spokesperson was the most direct. “We discussed possible reactions to the possibility that Netanyahu will ignore us, and we are prepared to deal with this. We – at least the seven Mks who met – will work to make Netanyahu's life difficult in the Knesset.” Among the sanctions, the spokesperson said, was likely abstentions – or opposition - on important votes, like for the state budget, which is coming up in several weeks. “We will use our legislative power to make life difficult for the Prime Minister,” Hotovely's spokesperson said. “Hopefully it won't come to that.”