Herzog demands official building freeze in Judea and Samaria

May 15, 2016  

Party leaders moved closer to an agreement paving the way for a unity government over the weekend, despite continued opposition from both coalition members and Zionist Union MKs.

Zionist Union chief Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have reportedly sketched out a rough draft of a new coalition agreement that would expand the government from a narrow majority of 61 seats to a unity government with 85 MKs.

The remaining point of contention, according to a report by Maariv, are final status issues, including Herzog’s demand for a formal, comprehensive freeze on construction in Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria.

While Netanyahu has noted that a de facto partial freeze has been in effect for years, the Zionist Union leader has insisted that the Prime Minister make a formal declaration freezing all construction.

In addition, Herzog is seeking a pledge from Netanyahu that the government will immediately renew final status negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. Some reports indicate Herzog is also demanding the Foreign Ministry, from which the Zionist Union can directly oversee negotiations.

Netanyahu has hitherto rejected the above conditions, which would likely alienate present coalition partners and even many within the Likud. Without the concessions, however, Herzog will face an uphill battle in trying to sell a coalition agreement to members of his own party, who have voiced opposition to joining a Likud government.

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