Now is the time to step up the fight against a Palestinian state in the West
Bank, Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said on
Wednesday night at a meeting of the settler leadership in
Transportation Minister Israel Katz (Likud) said he believed
Palestinians should be autonomous in the West Bank and should affiliate with
“I am opposed to a Palestinian state,” Katz said at the start of
an executive meeting of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and
the Gaza Strip.
“It is unacceptable, mainly because of our rights to this
land,’ Katz said. “In my eyes, the right diplomatic solution is an autonomous
Palestinian entity, but with Jordanian civilian and political
Katz added that Gaza should be severed from Israel and
connected to Egypt.
Ariel said, “We need to state clearly that there
won’t be a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River.”
He noted that
even as the settler leadership met, others were working to rekindle talks for a
two-state solution in the West Bank. The time to start the battle against those
talks and its outcome is now, he said.
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“These kinds of things need to be
killed when they are small. Otherwise, it becomes harder and more complicated,
with less chance of success,” he said.
“Now is the time to act. The
responsibility falls first and foremost upon us,” he said.
“We do not
ring the alarm bells enough. This time we will not turn the other check,” he
“We will fight [politically] for the Land of Israel with all our
strength,” he said, explaining that it was important to work within the
political parties that make up the coalition.
Both he and Katz said they
opposed any form of a construction freeze over the pre- 1967 lines.
illness in which Jews freeze Jews is a very serious disease that can return in
many forms,” he said. “A freeze cannot be within the Jewish nation’s lexicon,
certainly not in the Land of Israel.”
It has been close to a year since
new homes have been marketed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, Ariel
“I won’t lend a hand in any way to a freeze in Judea and Samaria
and in east Jerusalem,” he said.
“According to my political assessment,
there is not a majority for it in the Knesset,” Ariel added.
a statement he made earlier in the day at the Knesset Finance Committee debate
on his ministry’s budget, in which he blamed the country’s housing shortage in
part on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s refusal to authorize permits for
homes in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem.
“We have the ability
to market 10,000 housing units in [east] Jerusalem and the settlement blocks in
Judea and Samaria,” Ariel told the Knesset Finance Committee during a meeting on
the housing budget for 2013-2014.
This includes plans for homes in the
settlements of Beit Aryeh, Ofarim and Elkana, Ariel said.
one of the areas in the country with an acute housing shortage, Ariel said. As a
result, he said, prices have risen by 41 percent between 2008 and 2012, compared
to a 27% hike in the rest of the country for that same period.
purchase prices translate into high rental fees, he said.
comments come in the midst of a de facto freeze since January on the publication
of housing tenders
in east Jerusalem and West Bank settlements, as part of
Netanyahu’s efforts to help create a supportive climate for US Secretary of
State John Kerry’s efforts to rekindle the frozen
peace talks with the
On Wednesday afternoon Avi Ro’eh, who heads the Council of
Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, wrote a letter to
Netanyahu urging him to lift the de facto freeze and begin marketing
Meretz party leader MK Zehava Gal-On accused Ariel of manipulating
the country’s housing crisis to push for more housing over the pre-1967
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) called Ariel the only
honest member of the coalition.
“Ariel took the mask off the face of the
Netanyahu-Lapid- Bennett government,” she stated.
“Lapid promised cheaper
housing but enacts cruel budget cuts and raises taxes on middle- class
homeowners without creating even one mechanism for stopping housing prices from
skyrocketing. Then he covers everything with empty slogans.”
At the same
time, Yacimovich said, Ariel revealed the government’s total unwillingness to
try to bring a peace treaty, in trying to create a mass influx of young couples
into settlements by having inexpensive housing only there.
housing plans will be “the death blow to our chances for a peace treaty.”
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