Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria says the 500 homes Prime Minister Netanyahu says he’ll build before the construction freeze takes effect are a form of ‘mocking the poor.’
Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman agrees, saying he needs a few hundred new units each year just in his city alone.
Reports are rampant that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has told the Americans of his plans to approve 500 new housing units in Judea and Samaria before the six-month construction freeze they demand goes into effect. It is believed that the Americans will not officially consent, but neither will they make waves, in order to smooth the way for an abrupt end to Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria shortly afterwards.
It is also being reported that Netanyahu has solidified support for his plan among leading members of his Likud party, despite strong objections by the “back-benchers,” led by freshmen MKs Tzipi Hotobeli and Danny Danon.
Netanyahu met with leading hard-line cabinet ministers from his party over the weekend, including Moshe Yaalon, Benny Begin and Yuli Edelstein. He reportedly convinced them of the need to acquiesce to U.S. President Barack Obama’s ultimatum for a freeze on housing starts, and that the 500 pre-freeze units he will approve are the best deal that can be had.
Dayan: Netanyahu's 'Achievement' is Just a Deception
Netanyahu also told them that the United States had “agreed” to allow the 2,500 units currently under construction to proceed as planned. However, Yesha Council chief Danny Dayan recently told Arutz-7’s Hebrew newsmagazine that this “is no achievement whatsoever, since legally there is no way to stop this private construction, which has already received all the necessary permits. To present that as an achievement is pure deception.”
Dayan also said on Sunday that the approval of 500 units in all of Judea and Samaria (Yesha) is “mocking the poor.” “Hardly any localities throughout Yesha will have new construction under this plan,” Dayan said, “and to build only 50 units in Maaleh Adumim and 50 in Beitar Illit is just an insult. Whoever heard of allowing just two new apartment buildings in cities of 40,000 people!”
Ron Nachman, mayor of the Shomron city of Ariel, similarly assailed Netanyahu’s plan. Speaking with Voice of Israel Radio on Sunday morning, Nachman said, “Our city alone needs 200-300 new units a year in order to remain stable.” He warned that “the explanations and justifications being offered today for Netanyahu's initiative are similar to the justifications made for the retreat from Gaza and other moves that failed to yield the promised results,” according to Dr. Aaron Lerner of IMRA.
On Saturday night, MK Danon, the acting coalition whip, asked the leaders of other coalition parties to join the efforts to oppose Netanyahu’s consent to a settlement freeze. The Shas party has accepted, and Labor has never objected to a construction freeze in Yesha - though Welfare Minister Yitzchak Herzog said there is no reason not to approve new building in areas in consensus, such as Maaleh Adumim and Beitar Illit.
"Moderates" Within the Likud
Minister Yuli Edelstein praised Netanyahu’s strong stance against the demands to stop construction in Yesha, and said there were no signs of “rebellion” within the Likud. Education Minister Gideon Saar defended Netanyahu, saying the prime minister must “protect our vital interests - Jerusalem and the relationship with the United States - and avoid international isolation.” Saar said the Likud is “not an extremist party, but rather a national movement that will lead Israel even in the future.”
Providing the backdrop for these remarks is the strong opposition to the first Netanyahu government, which some say led to its toppling in 1999 and its replacement by Ehud Barak’s Labor-Meretz government.