Settler leaders to PM: Stop de facto W. Bank freeze

In late night meet with settler leaders, housing minister says there's no legal block to authorize new housing tenders.

June 5, 2013 11:04
1 minute read.
The settlement Halamish.

Halamish 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Warning that a de-facto freeze exists for housing tenders in West Bank settlements and Jewish east Jerusalem homes, settler leaders and Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) met Tuesday night.

They are urging Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to allow Ariel’s office to authorize thousands of new housing tenders over the pre-1967 lines.

Netanyahu has refused to accede to the Palestinian demand that he freeze West Bank settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem. But he has temporarily placed a hold on issuing new housing tenders over the pre- 1967 line as part of his understanding with Washington that he will not take active steps that would thwart American efforts to rekindle direct talks with the Palestinians.

“In spite of the prime minister’s repeated promises, including public pledges, tenders have not been published, including those promised more than a year ago,” said Avi Ro’eh, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

Ariel told him, “There is nothing [technical] that prevents my office from publishing tenders.”

He explained to the settler leaders that all the bureaucratic procedures were finished, and he was only awaiting authorization to publish the plans.

“The problem becomes more acute as time passes,” Ariel said.

Ro’eh said he was surprised to hear Ariel tell him that there was “no legal or bureaucratic impediment to publishing the tenders.”

He added, “I call on other ministers to act without delay on the matter.”

The council also set up a special task force to advance the publication of tenders.

Peace Now confirmed that no new tenders have been issued for West Bank settlements or Jewish homes in east Jerusalem since January.

But the organization’s Hagit Ofran said that the government has continued to engage in other settlement activity, including the advancement of building plans.

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