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Netanyahu Blocks Construction in Jerusalem Neighborhoods

There is a stream of reports that say PM Netanyahu is suspending construction and growth in the capital city of Jerusalem.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 11/30/2009, 4:08 PM / Last Update: 11/30/2009, 4:33 PM

A stream of recent reports indicates that Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu is suspending construction and growth in the capital city of Jerusalem, in contradiction of his statements.

The latest report came from reporter Ariel Kahane in Makor Rishon. He wrote Monday that Netanyahu turned down plans to build 130 units in Har Homa and 30 more in Pisgat Ze’ev. Both are large neighborhoods built on land liberated by Israel in 1967.

Kahane notes that Minister of Housing and Construction Ariel Attias (Shas) presented the plans to Netanyahu some ten days ago. The plans also included 20 units in Ramot, and in the end, this was the only plan for which Netanyahu allowed Atias to issue a tender. Ramot is older than both Pisgat Ze’ev and Har Homa.

By withholding the tender for Pisgat Ze’ev, home to some 40,000 Jews, Netanyahu essentially overturned a mini-security cabinet decision to continue to build there.

900-Unit Project Stopped
Four months ago, it was similarly reported that though Netanyahu promised never to stop building in the capital city, he had frozen a much larger construction project in Pisgat Ze’ev. The project was to provide another 900 housing units in the neighborhood.

Asked about the above report at the time, Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev said, "No comment."

Ketzaleh and Attias
Earlier this month, Minister Attias told a television interviewer that not a single construction project had been authorized in eastern Jerusalem since Prime Minister Netanyahu took office at the end of March.

MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), the head of the opposition National Union party, has consistently attacked Netanyahu for agreeing to the freeze in Judea and Samaria, and recently predicted that he would give in on Jerusalem as well. “All year long,” Katz wrote, “discussions went on between myself and the Likud ministers [and others] who all expressed shock at my claim that Netanyahu secretly told Attias to refrain from issuing any tenders. Then, to their surprise, Attias admitted it to the media, and the left was able to crow with delight at the first prime minister to freeze the development of Judea and Samaria and … allow minimal building in Jerusalem.”

It was reported two weeks ago, on the other hand, that U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell had asked Netanyahu to freeze a construction project of dozens of housing units in Gilo – and Netanyahu turned him down.