'We Have 48 Hours to Thwart Settlement Freeze,' Likud Rebels Told

Members of Netanyahu's party opposed to renewed moratorium on West Bank building meet with settler leaders at Knesset.

Members of the Likud Knesset faction opposed to a renewed freeze on settlement construction met in at the Knesset on Monday with settler leaders to discuss steps to thwart Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's efforts to win cabinet approval for the plan.

"We have a 48-hour window to do something before the cabinet decision," Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein, who hosted the meeting at his offices, told lawmakers and activists. Netanyahu first presented the plan to the cabinet on Sunday, days after he met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York.

Yuli Edelstein
Tomer Appelbaum

The plan, proposed by the American administration, calls for a 90-day extension of the moratorium on building West Bank settlements in return for a series of incentives including the sale of 20 new fighter jets to Israel. The previous ten-month settlement construction ban expired in September.

"The struggle will be effective if we expand it," MK Tzipi Hotovely told the gathering. "Ministers cannot abandon their ideology, they must be more focused on the issue of the freeze and be heard by everyone."

Danny Dayan, the head of the Yesha council of settlements, urged MKs to seek support from each and every cabinet minister, including those whose backing seemed unlikely.

"We need to garner the support of all the ministers, even those we think won't get behind us," Dayan said, adding that the freeze should be opposed unconditionally and that the United States should at least be required to commit that such a move would be the last freeze.