"We have reached the moment of truth. We must decide if we are working with Lieberman or for Lieberman," Eitan said Monday morning during a Likud ministers' meeting.
"The Likud has partners and we must let them express their opinions, but when government ministers talks to international forums, particularly the UN assembly, they cannot undermine the prime minister's leadership and present an alternative policy."
Addressing the calls for Kadima's inclusion in the coalition instead of Yisrael Beiteinu, Eitan said, "I believe that the question f whether we are working for Lieberman can be settled, if we look into expanding the coalition and adding new partners."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded cynically, "How do you know? Perhaps we have already looked into it – and perhaps we shall still look into it."
Netanyahu addressed the negotiations with the Palestinians and the renewal of construction in the settlements. "At the moment there is no decision on the freeze and nothing to present to the government and cabinet," he said. "It is in our interest to maintain the settlements and the talks' existence, so things must be done in a discreet manner."
'Israel has met its commitments'As for the peace negotiations, Netanyahu said, "A month ago the Palestinians entered direct talks with us, following gestures made by us, led by the most difficult decision we have ever made – suspending construction in Judea and Samaria. The settlers are subject to an unjustified attack. They deserve to live a normal life like any other citizen in the State of Israel, and this is our policy."
The prime minister added that Israel had met its commitments aimed at accelerating the talks, clarifying that "it is in our interest to continue the peace negotiations and we are in the midst of talks for their resumption. There is no need for declarations, rows and denials of any false media report."
He was backed by Environment Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, who said he opposed an expansion of the settlement freeze. "If it continues, it will be hard for us to gain the public's trust on other things. Moreover, this would be a concession before negotiating on communities we want."
He added, however, that "we are not in the situation to reject an American mediation attempt, so it would be appropriate to bring a suggestion, once there is one, to the suitable forum – the cabinet or the government."
Minister Avishay Braverman (Labor) stated Monday that "the construction freeze is a marginal issue compared to the security and border arrangements. The prime minister and defense minister must prevent the extreme Right from ruining the peace process. The government must take the path of peace – otherwise we will be making a historic mistake."
At the start of the cabinet meeting, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi) addressed the peace talks as well. "The freeze is over and is no longer relevant," he stated.
As for the deportation of foreign workers' children and several ministers' call for a new cabinet discussion on the matter, he said he accepts the professional committee and does not see any reason for putting the issue on the agenda again.
On the same issue, Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) stated firmly that "we must understand that we are not talking about 400 (children) but about 20,000. Together with the parents and siblings it's 80,000 people. It's like losing a city."
He teased Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Labor), who called for the issue to be reexamined, saying that "it's a shame he can't understand this and is only driven by considerations of ratings. I will maintain the Jewish majority. I won't let the children turn into an insurance policy."
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