900 Betar Illit kids may be without classrooms

Mayor Rubinstein: Building moratorium could mean children will have no place to learn.

school children israel class 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
school children israel class 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Nine hundred children in Betar Illit won’t have a classroom to sit in next year unless the 10-month moratorium on new construction in the settlements is lifted, warned Mayor Meir Rubinstein.
“It’s one thing to forbid construction of an apartment building, but to say your children have no place to learn next year, that is another thing,” said Rubinstein.
He spoke Sunday with 10 parliamentarians from the Lobby for Greater Israel, who headed into the Gush Etzion area to see first-hand the impact of the moratorium, which has been in place since the end of November.
At the last moment, the group detoured to Hebron to visit the Cave of the Patriarchs, so that they could stand where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob where buried, just as the cabinet was voting on the location’s inclusion in the Heritage Plan of significant sites in the history of the Jewish people.
Next they headed to Efrat, in Gush Etzion, where council chairman Oded Revivi showed them the cement foundation of a synagogue, whose construction had been halted as a result of the moratorium.
In December, just days after the moratorium was announced, settler leaders, including Revivi, poured cement on the site and insisted that they were determined to break the freeze.
Three months later, Revivi told the lobby that in fact construction on the synagogue was frozen.
Here in Gush Etzion, he said, “we have to fight for our right to build a synagogue.”
Down the road in Betar, Rubinstein said that work on 200 apartments had been halted as a result of the freeze.
But what concerned him the most was the government’s inclusion of 36public institutions, including 18 schools, which he had planned tobuild this year. When he complained, the civil administration told himto pick which ones were important.
Rubinstein added that he must be able to build enough classrooms tokeep pace with the growth, or the moratorium will choke the life out ofhis city.