After seeking forgiveness for the 10-month Judea and Samaria construction freeze and threatening to quit the government if the freeze was extended, Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, head of the Jewish Home faction, was quoted as having said that he would support a temporary construction freeze under the right circumstances. He later claimed his remarks had been taken out of context.
In an interview on Kol Chai radio Hershkowitz was asked what he would suggest if United States President Barack Obama threatened a decline in U.S.-Israel relations unless Israel froze building.
“We have to use our brains,” Hershkowitz said. “I asked the Yesha Council – if Obama were to want a two-month freeze, and in exchange promised that he would never push for [a freeze] again and would not oppose construction in any part of the land of Israel – my friends told me, ‘we would jump on that offer’!”
“You would agree to that?” the interviewer asked, to which Hershkowitz replied, “If there was a promise like that, I think we should go for it! But the Americans won’t give us an offer like that.”
Danny Dayan, head of the Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Council, said Hershkowitz’s claims regarding council members’ opinions were baseless. What the minister said was “the opposite of reality,” he said.
“The Yesha Council is vehemently and unequivocally opposed to renewing the building freeze for even a single day, and we have said so to every single government minister,” Danon said. “An additional freeze would be used to corner Israel in a diplomatic slaughterhouse in which we would be forced to agree to borders close to the 1967 line. It’s utterly naïve to belive that any good could come of it.”
He called on all ministers, “and the Jewish Home party minister in particular,” to not only oppose a construction freeze, but to push for the active renewal of building. While the construction freeze officially ended in September, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has declined to authorize building projects, leaving building severely limited.
Reacting to the backlash, Hershkowitz said his statements had been taken out of context and misunderstood.