Atilla Somfalvi
March 25, 2010 - 12:00am,7340,L-3868089,00.html

Commentators said after an exceptionally chilly welcome received by the prime minister at the White House that Benjamin Netanyahu may be forced to alter the composition of his government, due to disagreements between his coalition and the US on construction in east Jerusalem.

A Labor minister said Thursday that "the government in its current state may be in danger". But a senior Likud minister disagreed, saying that it was "too soon to assume that the composition of the coalition will change".

Kadima Party members showed signs of agreeing to take part in the government, but only if their demands were met. "If Netanyahu kicks out Shas or Yisrael Beitenu we will join the government, but he must kick one of them out," one official said.

Sources say Netanyahu will have to hurry to get Kadima to join his coalition. However many believe the entire issue has been drummed up by the press.

"Netanyahu has no reason to alter the composition of the government. Neither Shas nor Yisrael Beitenu are preventing him from carrying out any policy he desires, including the freeze… In addition, the political price he will pay for betraying them will be high," one senior minister said.

Meanwhile the prime minister has received widespread support from his party members for refusing to give US President Barack Obama guarantees on a freeze in construction.

MK Ze'ev Elkin related construction to Israel's democratic values. "If the construction does not continue in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem it has no future as the capital of the State of Israel with a Jewish majority," he said.

"Those who demand or press the government of Israel to relinquish this position demand of it to go against the decree of the voter and the stance of the majority of the Israeli public."

MK Danny Danon (Likud) criticized the US president and the temporary freeze imposed on settlements. "Obama needs to know that Jerusalem will not be the price for the justification of his Nobel," he said.

"Today not a doubt remains that the decision to freeze construction was a mistake, and only drew more pressure from the Americans while failing to provide an opening for negotiations with the Palestinians."


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