Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) called on the government Tuesday to
authorize construction in one of the more diplomatically controversial West Bank
sites – a neighborhood in the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement known as E-1.
think we have to build in E-1, and elsewhere in Ma’aleh Adumim and the other
settlement blocs,” he said as he toured the city with its mayor, Benny
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that
building should be accelerated in settlements like Ma’aleh Adumim, which would
remain under Israeli sovereignty in any final-status agreement with the
But in spite of his strong words, Netanyahu authorized only
50 new units in the city at the start of November, when he gave the green light
for 1,650 new homes in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem and 277 new homes
in the Efrat settlement.RELATED:
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Netanyahu and his inner cabinet, which consists
of eight senior members of the cabinet, did this in the aftermath of a vote by
the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to recognize
Palestine as its 195th member.
At the same time, the inner cabinet
“temporarily suspended” the transfer of tax fees to the PA. On Monday, the
security cabinet, which consists of seven senior cabinet members, continued the
The government has weighed taking additional steps against
the PA, but to date, it has not voted on any other punitive
Located 4.5 kilometers over the pre-1967 line just outside of
Jerusalem on the way to the Dead Sea, Ma’aleh Adumim is the third-largest
settlement city. It is home to 36,000 people.
New construction there has
slowed to a trickle, because the only tracts of land left for new large
construction projects are in E-1.
For close to two decades, every prime
minister has promised to authorize E-1, but no one has.
Palestinians object to all settlement construction, they have been especially
adamant about E-1, because they believe it will harm the contiguity of their
The US has also pressured Israel not to build
But on Tuesday, Steinitz told a small group of reporters that now
was the time to consider authorizing E-1 in light of the Palestinian refusal to
negotiate and its pursuit of unilateral statehood.
“I think it is high
time to tell our American friends that this is not the [moment in which] Israel
should take into consideration any objections, requests or reservations by the
Palestinian Authority [with respect to E-1],” Steinitz said.
be clear that Ma’aleh Adumim [including E- 1] will remain in Israel in any
future peace agreement,” he said.
Even former prime minister Yitzhak
Rabin believed this, he said.
The PA has “betrayed” the principles of the
Oslo Accords and the peace process in general, Steinitz said, adding that it had
sought statehood without peace, without an end to the conflict and without the
recognition that Israel is a Jewish state.
This action, the finance
minister continued, is akin to the violence and terror that occurred earlier
this decade when Yasser Arafat chaired the PA.
the Palestinian Authority is not the issue,” he said. “We should not take into
account any Palestinian resistance to building in Ma’aleh Adumim or elsewhere in
Judea and Samaria.”
Steinitz added that he was a strong advocate of
freezing the transfer of tax fees to the PA.
“The PA is breaking all the
rules. This is a time for sanctions,” he said. “We cannot cooperate with the PA
as if nothing happened.”
While in Ma’aleh Adumim, Steinitz also spoke
against the demolition of unauthorized homes in settlements or outposts,
including those built on private Palestinian property.
should be given to settlers who built homes on land they believed would be
approved by the government, he said.
It is possible to compensate private
Palestinian property owners, should it be proven that the land belongs to them,
“You do not destroy people’s homes,” he stated.