New tenders advertised in Ariel, Elkana

Many units meant for Gaza evacuees; Peace Now: Gov't turning Annapolis into a "irrelevant joke."

arielwestbank224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Construction and Housing Ministry on Friday advertised two tenders for leasing plots of land in the West Bank settlements of Elkana and Ariel in order to build 100 new housing units. According to the new tenders, 52 units will be constructed in Elkana and 48 in Ariel. The Ariel units are intended to house Gush Katif evacuees while in Elkana, permanent structures will be built to replace existing temporary ones. The tenders, which were advertised by the Construction and Housing Ministry and the Civil Administration supervisor in the West Bank, will be issued on June 11 this year and until then, the ministry will supervise tours to the area by those interested in building in the new sites. The Peace Now organization issued a response saying that "the government is destroying the chance to arrive at an agreement with the Palestinians and is turning Annapolis into an irrelevant joke." Construction and Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim said that there was nothing new about Peace Now's ideology. "From their point of view, construction in Jerusalem and in its municipal borders is also settlement activity," he said. "They have no problem with Israel withdrawing to the '67 borders tomorrow and dividing Jerusalem. However, this is not the current government's position, and it has never made a commitment not to build in [major settlement] blocs, irrespective of the fact that the planned construction is meant to cater for natural growth." MK Eli Yishai (Shas) praised the ministry's decision. "I am happy that the results of my talks with the prime minister are already beginning to be seen," Yishai said, adding that "no one will restrict us in our state." Elkana council head Yehuda Cohen, also praised the government for a "festival present" ahead of Pessah. "It is a neighborhood in which an evacuation-construction process is underway, with permanent structures replacing the existing ones," he said. However, Cohen went on to say said that the Elkana settlers were not wholly satisfied with the 52 new housing units which were approved. "We are still waiting for approval for an expansion project to build another 300 housing units," he said. Labor MK Ephraim Sneh demanded that Labor faction chairman Eitan Cabel convene the faction for an urgent discussion as a result of the tenders. He said that the announcement damages the chances of peace with the Palestinians. He emphasized that "the Labor faction decided only this past week on its commitment to the success of the peace process."