Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) listens to US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
Israel will resume construction in Jewish settlements on the West Bank following Barack Obama's departure from the White House, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have told a religious Zionist lawmaker.
According to Bayit Yehudi MK Nissan Slomiansky, the prime minister sought to assuage the party's Knesset members and rank-and-file supporters who have been grumbling in recent weeks over what they perceive to be a government halt to building in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria.
Slomiansky, who serves as the chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee, made the remarks during a panel discussion in Jerusalem earlier this week.
Obama, whose relationship with Netanyahu has been fraught, ends his term in office next year.
"There is still building by private citizens throughout our country, but all public construction works have been frozen by the prime minister," Slomiansky said.
"The prime minister has explained to us in the party that there is a problem," the MK said. "Let's wait until Obama steps down, until there's a new president."
After quizzed on his comments by The Jerusalem Post
's Hebrew-language sister publication Ma'ariv
, Slomiansky said: "Netanyahu always has a different excuse of some sort. Once he told us that we can't build in Judea and Samaria until things calm down on the Temple Mount. The last excuse he used - and we heard about in the latest reports - is that we can't build so long as Obama is in power."
"This sounds to me like a flimsy excuse," the lawmaker said. "I don't know why, but Netanyahu has an aversion to building, and the worst thing is is that during his remarks before the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, he actually bragged about being the prime minister that built the least
[in the territories]."
"It is true that there is pressure from the Obama administration [not to build]," Slomiansky said. "But freezing construction in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria looks more to me like a way to woo [Zionist Union leader Isaac] Herzog so that he could come into the government and replace Bayit Yehudi."
"Netanyahu makes all kinds of statements," he said. "Go figure who the real Netanyahu is. One day, he says he's committed to a two-state solution, and the next day you get the impression that it's the total opposite."
Slomiansky said that Bayit Yehudi needs to exert pressure on the premier in order to alter his policy of a settlement freeze.
Netanyahu representatives declined to comment for this article.