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Min. Begin Promises Vigorous Construction after 10 Month Freeze

Begin says the freeze is an improvement over earlier demands for a total halt to construction and it strengthens Israel's international standing.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 11/26/2009, 7:13 PM / Last Update: 11/26/2009, 7:20 PM

Flash 90

The decision to vote in favor of a government decision to temporarily freeze construction in Judea and Samaria was not an easy one, Minister Benny Begin told Arutz Sheva Thursday. “We considered the matter carefully and in the overall balance, despite the great difficulty in the decision, we need to weigh its advantages as opposed to its disadvantages,” he said.

Begin stated that the freeze would indeed end ten months from now. “In the decision there is a clear clause that says that after the suspension, the government will go back to implementation of the policy of previous governments, in whose times there was a marked increase in settlement.”

"After the ten months construction will be renewed, and it will be renewed not to the level it has been at in recent months, but to the level it was at before August 2008,” he promised. 

It could have been worse
"On the one hand,” the minister explained, “things need to be examined in the context of the situation we were in seven months ago, when [US President] Obama confronted us with an international demand to impose upon ourselves a total freeze of all construction. They wanted a situation in which not a single brick would be laid. Of course we could not agree to this demand. In the meantime we thought, and I agreed to this, that if this decision will strengthen Israel's international standing, and houses and buildings will continue to be built in Judea and Samaria, and new residents will enter the communities, then this decision will also have advantages.”

The minister-without-portfolio said that the nationalist public should form its opinion on the Netanyahu government by comparing it to previous governments. “In 2000 [Ehud] Barak offered to cede the PLO 95% of the territory and to carry out a land swap on all the rest. He also wanted to give up Israeli sovereignty on the Temple Mount. [Ehud] Olmert's Kadima government proposed a deal that would concede 98% of the total territory of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and to forgo Israeli sovereignty on the Mount of Olives. The 'Holy Basin' was to be administered by Arab states. The Likud would never think of making such offers,” he noted.