Housing approval met with disapproval

Yesha Council and Peace Now both dissatisfied with Barak's authorization of new settlement construction.

Maaleh Adumim 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Maaleh Adumim 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Disappointment registered across Israel's political spectrum following Defense Minister Ehud Barak's announcement approving 455 new housing units in Judea and Samaria. The decision to approve the construction is a danger to the national interests of Israel, said Peace Now secretary-general Yariv Oppenheimer on Monday. "The response to the demands of the Yesha Council will destroy the relationship with the international community and will bury any chance to arrive at a two-state solution," Oppenheimer added. The Right appeared dissatisfied with the low number of housing units announced by Barak. According to Yesha Council director-general Pinchas Wallerstein, the list of approved housing units was a capitulation to the demands of the Labor Party. He added that it was characteristic of the party's declared policies. Oppenheimer, however, said he believed that the settlers had nothing to complain about, since they would be able to build during the nine-month freeze. The figure was the result of meetings between Barak and Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu that concluded Sunday. The government issued approval of a final list of new housing prior to an expected freeze on new housing permits in the West Bank. Also Monday, speaking at a ceremony in Hebron commemorating the Arab pogroms of 1929, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) attacked Netanyahu's plans to freeze construction in the settlements. "He who thinks that drying up Ariel and Ma'ale Adumim will build Tel Aviv and its surrounding areas, or will foster recognition of our territorial rights is gravely mistaken," he said. According to Rivlin, "he who thinks that in this way we will save ourselves from the pending holocaust is holding out a false hope." Rivlin's associates said, however, that he was convinced that Netanyahu was making a considerable effort to maneuver between his core beliefs and pressure from the US. Ceremony organizer Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein promoted the renewal of Jewish settlement in Hebron. "We have the power, the means and the ability to build and renew the settlement in the city of the patriarchs," he declared. "But we can do this only by knowing our roots here in Hebron," he added. "Jerusalem will not be built on the ruins of Hebron," asserted the minister.