Knesset members convened Monday afternoon in the office of Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein in the Knesset for an "emergency meeting" ahead of the cabinet's approval of an additional 90-day settlement construction freeze.
MK Danny Danon announced during the meeting that he had sent a letter to Shas'
spiritual leader Rabi Ovadia Yosef. "We will exert every effort to prevent the freeze," he said. "The key is in Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's hands. If Shas ministers abstain in the cabinet, the decision may pass."
At the same time, Danon added, "we are working from here to stop the Israeli government from making such a decision, which will hurt the Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria."
The meeting was also attended by Coalition Chairman Zeev Elkin, MKs Yariv Levin and Tzipi Hotovely, and settler leaders including Yesha Council Director-General Naftali Bennett.
"We oppose the freeze and will do all we can to stop it," said MK Levin. "It's an inappropriate decision. We must say no to an additional building freeze in Judea and Samaria."
Rebels' meeting (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Minister Edelstein stressed the urgency of the matter in light of a cabinet meeting scheduled for Wednesday. "We have 48 hours to operate," he said. "Any decision made by Israel is a one-way decision and we have no way out."
MK Hotovely said, "The battle will be effective by expanding the ranks. We must not let the ideological ministers off the hook. They must be more decisive on the freeze and voice their opinion.
MK Elkin said the government's make-up may change soon. "We must understand that we are facing possible changes in the coalition. We are at a decisive point in terms of the coalition's composition. We already have replacements."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
currently has ministers in favor of the three-month building freeze on his Political-Security Cabinet: Netanyahu himself, Ehud Barak,
Yuval Steinitz, Yaakov Ne'eman, Dan Meridor, Gideon Sa'ar, and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer.
Six ministers plan to vote against the freeze: Avigdor Lieberman,
Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Moshe Ya'alon, Silvan Shalom, Benny Begin and Uzi Landau. Shas Ministers Eli Yishai and Ariel Atias are expected to abstain. If the two Shas ministers decided to oppose the extended freeze, Netanyahu will lose the vote.