Gov't Officials: Build in Maaleh Adumim, With or Without US OK

Knesset Speaker Rivlin and Interior Minister Yishai visited Maaleh Adumim, east of Jerusalem, & called for an end to the construction freeze there.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 14:08

construction in Maaleh Adumim
construction in Maaleh Adumim
Israel News Photo

Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin and Interior Minister Eli Yishai visited Maaleh Adumim, a suburb to the east of Jerusalem, on Monday morning, and called for an end to the construction freeze there.

Rivlin and Yishai attended a Maaleh Adumim city council meeting, headed by Mayor Benny Kashriel. Kashriel did not hide his dissatisfaction with U.S. intervention in Israeli growth when he referred to the “decision by U.S. President Barack Obama to freeze construction in Maaleh Adumim.”

Minister Yishai, who heads the Shas party, said, “Our government plans to dialogue with the U.S. government regarding construction in the settlements, and even to convince them. But if there is no choice, we will have to build anyway, at least in the settlement blocs, based on the letter of support for such blocs given by the previous president,” George W. Bush.

Speaker Rivlin (Likud) said, “The American policy opposing Jewish construction in Area E-1 [the area between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim] is a danger to Jerusalem and its future, and we must stand uncompromisingly against it. We must make it clear to the Americans that if we block off the territorial contiguity between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim, this could lead to Maaleh Adumim [population 34,000 – ed.] becoming an enclave like Mt. Scopus was between 1948 and 1967.”

Kashriel publicly asked Rivlin and Yishai to work to persuade Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to call off the construction freeze in all of Judea and Samaria, and particularly in Maaleh Adumim.

MK Chaim Oron, head of the ultra-left Meretz party, criticized both Yishai and Rivlin for “promoting their own political agendas,” and said that the attempt to convince the government to build in E-1 was “another step towards bringing Israel towards a clash with the world and mainly with the United States.”

“This is the first time that construction is being frozen in Maaleh Adumim and around Jerusalem,” Mayor Kashriel lamented. “Our children are growing and want to build their families in our city, and our parents in Jerusalem want to come and live with us, but these problems are being ignored.”