Justice Minister and Bayit Yehudi MK Ayelet Shaked said on Tuesday during a visit to Hebron that in ten days time Israel needs to “build and build” in Judea and Samaria.
Her comments are a reference to the inauguration of President- elect Donald Trump on January 20 and Bayit Yehudi’s expectation that he will not object to further settlement construction as previous presidents have.
Last week, Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett declared that his party would advance legislation to annex Ma’aleh Adumim once Trump takes office, as part of efforts to annex the rest of Area C of the West Bank.
Two senior figures in the coalition, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and senior Likud MK and Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, objected, however, saying that unilateral steps without coordination with the Trump administration could be diplomatically dangerous.
During her visit to Hebron, Shaked visited the Cave of the Patriarchs shrine, the city’s Jewish neighborhood and archeological digs in the Jewish part of the city, among other areas.
“I am here, at a time when the world chooses to condemn Israel for [settlement] construction, and I chose to come and to strengthen the Jewish settlement in Hebron,” said the justice minister during the trip.
“It’s unreasonable that construction in Hebron has been stuck for such a long time,” she added.
Speaking at the Cave of the Patriarchs, Shaked said, “This place belongs to us through historical and legal rights,” citing the Biblical account of Abraham’s purchase of the site.
“Abraham our father was present here and began to build a nation that would teach the world what true ethics are. Afterward, King David built his kingdom from here,” she said.
“Abraham our father bought the Cave of the Patriarchs with a legitimate bill of sale, which was likely the first of its kind in the world. The Jews who live in Hebron are natives who returned home to [the place of] their ancestors.”
Shaked said there is now a shortage of affordable housing for young couples because of a construction freeze in Hebron, causing the Jewish community in the city to age.
“From this place, I want to say that beginning in another ten days the excuses are over. [We] need to build and build, to develop Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, because this is our home and this is our right,” she declared.
On Monday, Liberman repeated his criticism of plans to pass laws declaring sovereignty over Area C of the West Bank, saying that such decisions could not be done through legislation alone, but required prior coordination with the US.
“Such a dramatic decision of imposing Israeli sovereignty over Ma’aleh Adumim, the settlement blocs and the whole of Judea and Samaria is impossible to do in legislation in the Knesset, and whoever thinks they can undertake such a process without prior coordination with the US is mistaken,” said Liberman during the Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting in the Knesset.
He said that a dialogue needs to be initiated with the Trump administration after his inauguration and only afterwards can such issues be discussed.
Liberman was also strongly critical of the Settlements Arrangements Law, which was approved in its first reading in Knesset in December and which would, if passed into law, retroactively legalize almost 4,000 settlement homes built on private Palestinian land.
The defense minister said the legislation “would likely never be passed,” but that its approval in its first Knesset reading had been “one of the straws that broke the back” of US President Barack Obama.
“Because of this law, we were attacked in the UN Security Council, and this was a direct result of the Settlement Arrangements Law, which has not even been legislated yet,” Liberman said.
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