Sunday, June 16, 2013

'Worried about J'lem building freeze? Call the PM'


Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel says those concerned over Jewish building should address Netanyahu's office.

Construction site in Jerusalem
Construction site in Jerusalem Photo: Marc Israel Sellem /The Jerusalem Post
Those who are concerned about Jewish building in east Jerusalem should call the Prime Minister’s Office, Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel told Army Radio on Thursday.

In a brief exchange that lasted a minute, Army Radio asked him, “Is there no more building in Jerusalem over the Green line?” “Yes,” Ariel responded. “It is very problematic. The statistics speak for themselves.

I have nothing to add beyond this. Let’s go on to the next question.” He added, “In this matter, let me give you another number. It will call the prime minister’s office and you can ask them your questions.”

Army Radio pressed him to state if the prime minister’s office was preventing the authorization of east Jerusalem building.
“I ask that you address those questions to (02) 670- 5511 [the prime minister’s switch board],” Ariel said.
He was more candid last week when he met with settler leaders. There, he explained that the bureaucratic and technical process was completed for thousands of tenders. He told the settler leaders that he was simply waiting for authorization to publish the tenders.
According to Peace Now, no tenders have been issued for new Jewish homes in east Jerusalem and the West Bank since January.
Palestinians have insisted that Israel must halt West Bank settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem as a precondition to direct talks.
Israel has refused to cede to this demand. But as a gesture in support of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to rekindle the frozen peace talks, Netanyahu has agreed not to take any active steps with regard to building, such as issuing tenders.
Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman has been the most outspoken politician on the issue. He told Army Radio earlier this week that this was a temporary measure.
“We want John Kerry to succeed,” he said. “It is more important to be wise than right.”
Netanyahu has, however, agreed to allow the bureaucratic process to continue for West Bank and east Jerusalem construction, up to the point of authorization.
This week, for example, zoning plans were deposited with the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria for 550 homes in the Bruchin settlement and 675 in the Itamar settlement.
If approved, the plans would vastly expand the size of both settlements located in the Samaria region of the West Bank.


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