As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares for the start of the second round of direct peace talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday, elements within the Likud party are working to ensure that the 10-month freeze of settlement construction in the West Bank will end as scheduled at the end of September.
Four Likud MKs – Yariv Levin, Tzipi Hotoveli, Danny Danon and Ze'ev Elkin – have threatened to withdraw their support for the 2011-2012 state budget if the settlement freeze is extended.
At a Likud gathering on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom spoke in favor of renewing construction throughout the West Bank once the settlement freeze expires.
"When they speak of building only in the settlement blocs, where exactly is the line?", he said. "Are we ourselves setting the borders before negotiations even begin?"
At the same gathering, Levin called on Netanyahu to "continue the way of the Likud, not the way of the freeze."
Yossi Peled, a minister without a portfolio, criticized the secrecy of Netanyahu's decision-making process in regards to the peace talks.
"There need to be discussions within the government in which different opinions are heard," he said. "Such a critical matter should not be conducted in secrecy."
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