Right before he flies to Washington, hawkish Likud officials are once again putting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s leadership to the test:

The committee of Ministers on legislation will convene today regarding a legislative proposal of Carmel Shama’a (Likud) and Uri Ariel (National Union), according to which any governmental decision regarding building in the West Bank would require the approval of the Knesset. In the meantime, the Prime Minister’s office is pressuring ministers to oppose the legislation.

Shas as well as Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu announced they will support the legislation. Three Likud representatives on the committee—Environment Minister Gilad Erdan, Yuli Edelstein, and an additional minister—have announced they will also support the legislation. Minister of Culture and Sport Professor Daniel Hershkovitz (Jewish Home) is expected to submit his vote to the government’s secretary Tzvi HaOzner in favor of the proposal.

At the same time, the initiators of the legislation turned to the head of the Knesset Committee, Yariv Levin (Likud), a known Moshe Feiglin supporter, and asked him to allow them to speed up the legislation process in order to enable the law proposal to be voted on by the Knesset before its summer recess.

“In the Knesset’s current make-up, there is no chance that any proposal to extend the freeze would pass,” said MK Shama’a. “I hope that the ministerial committee on legislation will recommend the speeding up of the legislation process on this proposal.”

According to the proposal, “Building will not be frozen in building areas under the ownership of an Israeli citizen, a corporation registered in Israel, or a corporation established under Israeli law, except with the authorization of the Knesset.”

“Concern for the end of the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria”

The explanation of the bill says that, “The bill determines that there will be no freeze of construction in Judea and Samaria without the approval of the Knesset and therefore any decision regarding the freeze in Judea and Samaria, even for a short time, will require the approval of the Knesset members.”

Also written in the bill: “The building freeze means the prevention of the strengthening and natural growth of the settlements to the point of a possible end to the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria and a blow to the standard of living of the large community that decided to settle in the area with the encouragement of successive Israeli governments. Such a heavy, critical, and consequential communal decision like this one must be taken via a democratic process and therefore the Knesset members elected by the people are the only authority to decide on this matter.”

MK Shama’a added, “The purpose of the bill is to make sure that the building freeze will not be extended for further length of time. I estimate that before the month of September (the end of the freeze) pressure will build against the Prime Minister and therefore it is up to us to create a legal brake that will not allow another freeze.”