Likud MKs Threaten Budget Revolt Over Freeze

Four Likud MKs are threatening to vote against the two-year budget for 2011-2012 if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not end the construction freeze in the territories. Next month Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz will present the Budget Law to the Knesset for a vote on its first reading. The second and third readings are expected to take place only at the end of December.

The MKs voiced their threat at a meeting between a group of Likud Mks and Steinitz yesterday.

MK Yariv Levin (Likud ), the chairman of the Knesset House Committee, told Steinitz that the parliamentarians could not support the budget if the construction freeze continued.

MKs Tzipi Hotovely and Danny Danon told Steinitz the same, and Likud sources say MK Zeev Elkin is of a similar mind.

"Netanyahu received a clear message that the stability of the coalition and support for the state budget depend on implementing the Likud's policy and keeping promises made to the public on the end of the construction freeze in the territories," Hotovely said.

Steinitz replied to the Knesset members that he hoped they would not have to carry out their threat. He called on them to show responsibility and said the budget is the Likud's economic platform that the MKs must back.

Likud sources said they expect right-wing parties such as National Union and Habayit Hayehudi to cause problems in getting the budget through parliament if the construction freeze in the settlements continues, and if Netanyahu offers the Palestinians various proposals to which the right wing objects.

If the budget is not passed by March 31, 2011, under law, the Knesset would have to disband. New elections would have to be called, and would be held in the middle of 2011.