Right-Wing Up in Arms Over Building Freeze

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israel’s right wing drew a red line for the Netanyahu government on Tuesday, threatening to withdraw support for it in Knesset voting if there is a freeze on construction in Yehudah and Shomron.

With the slogan of “No building – No voting,” the Knesset’s Land of Israel caucus, a mostly right-wing group of 35 MKs and public figures, said that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will lose their support if he does not follow through on promises to build in Yehudah and Shomron.

They accused Netanyahu of paying “lip-service” to building new housing in the region while in reality giving in to pressure from Secretary of State John Kerry to halt building.

Caucus chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) addressed another contentious issue in its meeting on Tuesday — the government’s decision to release Palestinian prisoners to pave the way for peace talks. He said it was incompatible with the Israeli demand for negotiations without preconditions.

He said that there was no reason for the world to think that the release of murderers advances peace, while building kindergartens harms it.

The caucus declaration was made despite assurances from Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who told them that Netanyahu told him personally there was no commitment to freeze construction in Yehudah and Shomron and eastern Yerushalayim.

Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir of Jewish Home observed at the meeting that it was unfortunate that Israel needed such a caucus at all, saying that France doesn’t need a “Keep France” caucus.