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Daily Israel Report

Likud Central Committee Joins Freeze Opposition

PM Netanyahu faces resistance to freeze from his own party's Central Committee as mass opposition drive begins.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 11/19/2010, 1:14 PM / Last Update: 11/20/2010, 6:39 PM

Yoni Kempinski

First, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu faced opposition from within his own party's Knesset members as Likud ministers and MKs announced that they oppose a further Judea and Samaria construction freeze. Now members of the Likud Central Committee have come out in opposition to the prime minister as well, with a new campaign to rally support against the freeze.

Members of the nationalist camp within the central committee are passing around a petition in support of MKs and ministers who oppose the freeze. The initiative began Thursday night, and already more than 280 members of the committee and Likud branch heads have signed on.

Organizers hope to get signatures from the majority of Central Committee members.

Copies of the letter will be sent to Likud politicians who voiced their opposition to a second ban on construction for Judea and Samaria Jews, with the aim of assuring them that by opposing their party's leader, they will have earned their party's support.

“This week, when a demand to renew the freeze in Judea and Samaria was made public and we needed your help as our loyal representative in the government, you were there for us,” the letter states. “We the undersigned will not forget this; when you need our help as loyal party members, we will be there for you.”

In June, the Central Committee voted unanimously in favor of resuming construction in Judea and Samaria when the original 10-month freeze expired.

Netanyahu announced a unilateral 10-month construction freeze for Judea and Samaria Jews in 2009, in an attempt to bring the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table. Previously, Jews in Judea and Samaria were allowed to build as usual while talks between Israel and the PA took place, with the understanding that many would remain in their homes in case of a peace deal.

The PA agreed to attend the talks only toward the end of the 10-month freeze, then dropped out again when construction resumed. The PA's refusal to negotiate without a freeze led to U.S. pressure on Israel to resume the construction ban for three months. Netanyahu recently agreed to the U.S. demand, but needs government agreement, while the PA has yet to agree to resume talks if the freeze resumes.