3 Likud Ministers Say ‘No' to US

Three Likud Cabinet ministers, joined by 11 MKs, sign a letter against the "Clinton freeze” while the PA plays “wait and see.”

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 12:59 PM

Likud minister Moshe Yaalon
Likud minister Moshe Yaalon
Israel news photo: Yotam Frum

Three Likud ministers have signed a letter stating strong opposition to the “Clinton freeze” that was ironed out with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last week in Washington. Benny Begin, Moshe Ya’alon and Silvan Shalom officially came out against the proposal.

They joined Likud minister Yulie Edelstein, who already has signed the letter, along with 10 other Likud MKs, bringing to 14 --half the number of Likud MKs -- who have added their signatures. Their opposition may have been a factor in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision not to bring the proposal to the Cabinet Wednesday morning.  

Even Likud Minister Dan Meridor, the most dovish of Likud ministers, confirmed Tuesday night that the building freeze plan will stay frozen without written guarantees from the United States. The freeze calls for a 90-day moratorium on building for Jews in Judea and Samaria.

The Palestinian Authority has not announced it will reject the plan, but all statements until now have made it clear that the Arabs will not accept a building freeze that does not include southern, eastern and northern Jerusalem, which the PA wants to be a part of its desired state.

Likud minister Moshe Ya’alon, formerly Chief of Staff of the IDF, said Wednesday morning his opposition is based on principles and not politics. He said that the Cabinet last year agreed to the now-expired 10-month building freeze for Jews in Judea and Samaria on condition it would not be renewed. Prime Minister Netanyahu also stated it was a one-time moratorium.

“If we accept another freeze, we are breaking our trust and surrendering to the Arab world and perhaps the United States,” he told Voice of Israel government radio. “Without red lines, we are weakened in negotiations. This is a matter of principle; it is not political and not against the prime minister.”

He pointed out that since Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech at Bar Ilan University which for the first time stated his support for the Palestinian Authority as an independent entity, Israel has made concessions and received nothing in return except for an erosion of its position.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas “has publicly said he will never recognize Israel as the home of the Jewish people,” Ya’alon added. We do not want to rule the Arabs, and we want negotiations. But first, we have to be able to depend on them. How can we negotiate while an entire younger generation of Arabs sees that Israel does not have a right to exist?

“They want the Palestinian flag to fly over Yafo (Jaffa, adjacent to Tel Aviv, and the name used to identify Israeli oranges) because it was ‘occupied’ in 1948.”