Palestinian laborers work on a construction site in a religious Jewish settlement in the West Bank. [File].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel threatened to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday if he does not resume unhindered construction in Judea and Samaria.
On Monday – the same day UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-Moon scolded Israel for building in eastern Jerusalem – Army Radio revealed a tape of a speech by Ariel in Itamar the night before, in which the minister pressured Netanyahu to build in isolated settlements.
Ariel accused Netanyahu of giving terrorists a prize by limiting construction for Jews over the pre-1967 armistice line.
“Mr. Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, enough excuses,” Ariel said. “The time has come to stop the freeze and build in Itamar, Hebron, Kiryat Arba and all of the land of Israel. I ask the prime minister not to shame or humiliate us. The coalition will wobble because of the freeze on construction.”
Bayit Yehudi sources would not say whether Ariel was speaking for himself when he issued his threat to Netanyahu or representing the party as a whole.
Tensions remain between Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett and Ariel’s hawkish Tekuma party that ran together with Bayit Yehudi in the last election.
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner of Beit El, who is one of the mentors of Tekuma, was quoted Monday by the national-religious website Kippa calling Bennett “half religious.”
Meanwhile, Ariel unveiled a new plan on Sunday to compensate Jewish evacuees from the Gaza Strip’s former Gush Katif bloc of settlements. He called upon former Gush Katif residents to take advantage of what he called their last chance at compensation.