Publication of tenders for 198 new homes in the West Bank settlements of Efrat
and Kiryat Arba by the Israel Lands Authority just a week before the election
sparked a fierce political debate on Wednesday.
The tenders, which were
published Tuesday, came almost at the same time that Jeffrey Goldberg of The
Atlantic published an article in which US President Barack Obama reportedly
criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for continued settlement
Upon hearing of the new tenders, Labor chairwoman Shelly
Yacimovich slammed Netanyahu for ignoring US President Barack Obama’s advice and
“Instead of listening to criticism, Netanyahu is
behaving irresponsibly and provocatively a week before the election,” she
“The battle against [Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali] Bennett is more
important to Netanyahu than facing Obama. Netanyahu is desperately trying to
distract from his failures, which were revealed again this week when we saw he
has no control over Israel’s economy, and is trying to work in the diplomatic
field, where he is also a failure,” Yacimovich said.
Efrat Council head
Oded Revivi noted that this was not the first time that the news of the Efrat
homes had been published.
“It is amazing to see how news can be repeated,
making the headlines time after time,” Revivi said.
“The permits were
granted quite a few months ago. We are extremely happy to see that the permits
have come to fruition with the publication of the tenders,” he said.
explained that 114 apartments will now be built in a new neighborhood of the
Efrat settlement, known as Givat HaTamar.
Separately, 84 new units will
be built in a new neighborhood of the Kiryat Arba settlement, known as Harsina,
according to the Lands Authority’s website.
Efrat, which is located 6.5
kilometers over the pre-1967 lines, is considered part of the Gush Etzion bloc,
which Israel considers would become part of its sovereign territory in any
final-status agreement with the Palestinians.
Kiryat Arba is located 15.2
km. over pre-1967 lines, adjacent to Hebron, and just outside Gush
Palestinians believe that they should eventually have sovereignty
over Efrat and Kiryat Arba.
The Tzipi Livni Party blasted news of the
tenders, even though its leader has spoken of her belief that Gush Etzion would
be within Israel final borders.
“Netanyahu is destroying Israel’s
international relations and is sacrificing national interests for political
considerations right before an election,” it stated.
government’s order of priorities is set by its ‘natural partners,’ the extreme
Right and haredim, not the Zionist, sane majority in Israel,” the party
It took particular issue with the Kiryat Arba
Netanyahu’s policies lead to a double loss by isolating Israel and
weakening settlement blocs by building outside of them, Livni’s party
MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) congratulated Netanyahu, saying all
construction in the Land of Israel is a good thing.
She said that
Netanyahu’s support for building in Judea and Samaria was unprecedented and
would significantly lower housing prices.
The Yesh Atid party, however,
said Netanyahu is proving once again that he prefers settlers over the middle
“Instead of investing in housing, education and lowering the cost
of living, the prime minister chooses, a moment before the election, to invest
in settlements and is further isolating Israel,” the party stated.
the competition between him and Bennett for votes, Netanyahu chose to wink at
the extreme right instead of protecting national, social and economic
Jeremy Gimpel of Bayit Yehudi slammed Center-Left parties for
speaking out against the construction and believing that building in Efrat
“Now the voters know who they’re voting for,” he
Strong Israel leaders Arieh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari said, “It’s
too bad there aren’t elections twice a week.
“If Netanyahu would have
built in his four years in the government the way he’s promising before the
election, there wouldn’t be a housing crisis in Israel and the attempts to
establish a Palestinian state would be considered science fiction,” they
Eldad and Ben-Ari accused Netanyahu of trying to “steal” settler’s
votes, while saying he is committed to establishing a Palestinian state in Judea
The two expressed hope that those faithful to the Land of
Israel know not to give their votes to someone who plans to uproot them from