Shas Chairman Eli Yishai told reporters today that Chacham Ovadia Yosef, head of Shas’ Moetzet Chachmei Hatorah, would oppose any new construction moratorium in the West Bank, even if it is limited to two months.
Yishai’s announcement came after Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias was quoted as saying that Shas, including Rav Yosef, would support a settlement freeze.
About a month ago, on the eve of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, senior Shas members said the party would not obstruct progress in the peace negotiations with the Palestinians and would give the PM some room to maneuver once the moratorium expires.
On September 27, a day after the moratorium expired, Atias said that Shas would not be able to back another construction freeze and called on Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to grant new building permits to projects in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods.
However, since then, senior Shas officials said Chacham Ovadia would not object to another moratorium if construction is renewed in the charedi settlement blocs and east Jerusalem.
Shas members also said the party would support a two-month freeze in exchange for an American guarantee that it would be the last.