Netanyahu and building project
Netanyahu and building projectIsrael news photo montage

Most of the 28 Likud Knesset Members and most Likud ministers are against the new building freeze proposed by the United States and accepted by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Knesset coalition leader Ze’ev Elkin stated Sunday morning. In addition, one MK in the Jewish Home party called on his colleagues to quit the coalition if the freeze is approved.

The proposal does not require Knesset approval, but massive opposition by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s own party could sway the Cabinet when it votes on the suggestion, which was ironed out during the Prime Minister’s lengthy discussions with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton late last week.

Although Prime Minister Netanyahu does not have a clear majority in the Inner Cabinet, Labor Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Likud Minister Dan Meridor back a new freeze. Ministers who have spoken against it include Moshe Ya’alon of the Likud and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who also heads the Yisrael Beiteinu party.

Shas leader Eli Yishai said Sunday he is willing to abstain from voting on the proposal on two conditions: all building for Jews in all of Jerusalem must be allowed immediately, and U.S. President Barack Obama must agree to write a letter after 90 days that building will resume for Jews in Maaleh Adumim, Ariel, and two hareidi religious communities in Judea and Samaria -- Beitar Illit, located in western Gush Etzion, and Kiryat Sefer, located next to the city of Modi'in betweeen Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Jewish Home MK Uri Orbach said he would favor leaving the coalition if a new freeze is adopted. The party has three seats in the Knesset and is the smallest faction in the coalition, but its departure would open the way for a possible reunion with the National Union, headed by chairman and Knesset Member Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz.

The Palestinian Authority has not yet said if will accept the idea that the United States hopes will bring about direct talks between the PA and Israel for changing Israel’s borders and establish the PA as a state on most of Judea and Samaria and in large areas of Jerusalem.

Elkin, a senior member of the Likud, told Voice of Israel government radio the proposal is a two-edged sword. Compromising now would force Israel to capitulate in further talks with the PA, he said.

The suggested 90-day, non-renewable freeze includes an unwritten agreement that the United States will veto any United Nations resolution that supports unilateral moves by the PA, such as recognizing it as a state, which seems to be the issue that is first on Netanyahu's list.

The 90-day limit on the freeze could not only put pressure on Israel to sacrifice Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, but it also might leave Israel without any on-the-ground security measures.

The PA has consistently refused to accept anything less than complete sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria and Greater Jerusalem, including Maaleh Adumin, Gush Etzion and the Old City of Jerusalem, where the Temple Mount is located. It has also refused to recognize that Israel is the Jewish homeland and demanded that Judea and Samaria be Judenrein.