Ma'aleh Adumim mayor protests freeze of industrial project

Kashriel accuses PM of reneging on pre-election promises to support construction in West Bank settlements.

maaleh adumim 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
maaleh adumim 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Ma'aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel on Wednesday protested a sudden governmental freeze on a planned 19-dunam industrial project in his settlement city, located just outside of Jerusalem. Kashriel told The Jerusalem Post he had learned that the Israel Lands Administration had put on hold its plan to publish a tender to develop 19 dunams in the Mishor Adumim Industrial Park, pending authorization from the Prime Minister's Office. At the start of 2008, former prime minister Ehud Olmert changed the approval process for new construction in the West Bank when he issued a directive that all such projects must be authorized by his office. However, Kashriel contended on Wednesday that until now, this new directive had not applied to construction in an industrial zone. "This is the first time" such a project has needed the approval of the Prime Minister's Office, said Kashriel. In 2008, he said, other projects had been approved for the industrial park without going through the Prime Minister's Office. To protest the move, he sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. In speaking to the Post, Kashriel accused Netanyahu of reneging on his pre-election promises to support construction in West Bank settlements. "He [Netanyahu] is playing into the hands of the Americans. He is doing above and beyond what they want," declared Kashriel. Under the road map, Israel is obligated to freeze settlement activity, but until US President Barack Obama took office this year, it understood that it could continue to build within areas it believed it would likely retain in any final-status agreement. Exactly what the US means when it calls for a settlement freeze is now a subject of debate between the two governments. The Prime Minister's Office had no comment on the matter, and the Lands Administration said it could not comment until Thursday.