Livni's party angered by E1 building plans

Hatnua outraged over construction and housing minister's announcement that he intends to build in controversial E1 area.

E1 area 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
E1 area 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party expressed outrage on Wednesday about Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel’s announcement that he intends to build in the controversial E1 area between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim.
Ariel made the announcement at a festive Independence Day celebration at the site of E1 Tuesday attended by Knesset members in his Bayit Yehudi party.
“We will fulfill our right and our obligation to build here,” Ariel said at the event. “In another year and a half, apartments will be built in E1.
Hatnua faction chairman Meir Sheetrit, who is a former construction and housing minister, said he and his party would do everything possible to prevent Ariel from building in the area. He advised Ariel to build in the uncontroversial Negev and Galilee instead.
“Building in E1 would be a big mistake,” Sheetrit said. “He cannot get away with such an unnecessary provocation.”
Coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud-Beytenu) responded that building the proposed Mevaseret Adumim neighborhood in E1 was a foregone conclusion that Hatnua could not stop.
“We will build in E1, as Likud-Beytenu has promised,” Levin said. “Hatnua is an important component in the coalition, but they have to remember that they have only six seats.”
Levin downplayed reports of possible changes to the coalition, which was formed exactly a month ago on March 18.
Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was quoted saying that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was already fed up with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett and wanted Shas back in the government.
“Even Netanyahu says it won’t take long for Lapid and Bennett [to leave],” Yosef said in a closed conversation, a recording of which was revealed by Army Radio. “[Netanyahu] is suffering from them. He knew he would suffer from them.”
The Prime Minister’s Office denied that anything similar to that was said by Netanyahu, who paid a shiva call to Yosef, who is mourning the loss of a son, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef.
“It is too soon for anyone in the coalition to talk about suffering,” Levin said. “But yes, we want to add Shas to the coalition as soon as possible and Labor as well.”
Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelah said Yosef’s comments were irrelevant, and the coalition is stable.
Shas chairman Eli Yishai said he did not want his party to enter the government yet. “It’s too soon,” Yishai said.
“Being in the opposition is healthy. We need a year there to recover and get stronger.”