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Knesset Says No to Natural Growth in Judea and Samaria

The Knesset votes down a law to allow annual growth of Judea and Samaria towns. Ketzaleh: Likud MKs betraying their voters.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 3/7/2012, 11:08 AM

Jewish town in Shomron
Jewish town in Shomron
Flash90

The Knesset voted Tuesday to reject a bill that would have allowed annual growth in Judea and Samaria without the Defense Minister’s approval. National Union Knesset Member Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz, who proposed the measure, lashed out at nationalist Likud MKs for voting against it.

Israeli cities in Judea and Samaria lead the nation in population growth but face considerable obstacles when attempting to construct new homes.

Ketzaleh: Cut Reliance on Defense Minister
Israel previously saw Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria as a national priority, Ketzaleh said. However, since 1996 all construction in the region has required approval from the Defense Minister. “In practical terms, their development depends on the good will of a single minister,” he explained.

The bill would have changed that by requiring the Housing Minister to allow new construction each year in Maaleh Adumim, Ariel, Beitar Illit, Modiin Illit, Alfei Menashe, Efrata, Karnei Shomron, Beit Aryeh, Oranit and Kiryat Arba. Most significantly, if the orders issued by the Housing Minister were not approved by the Defense Minister within three days, they would be considered approved and the building process would continue.

Hotovely Slammed: ‘Lofty Words, No Influence’
The bill had support from MKs Amnon Cohen (Shas), Nissim Zev (Shas), Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi), Yariv Levine (Likud), David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), and Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beiteinu).

However, it was voted down by leading members of the Likud party, among them Ministers Yaalon and Begin and MKs Zev Elkin and Tzipi Hotovely.

Ketzaleh took Hotovely to task from the Knesset podium. “In the eyes of Prime Minister Netanyahu, you’re worth about as much as a garlic peel,” he said. “He did not deliberate with you before declaring support for ‘two states for two peoples,’ and today, like always, you will voice lofty ideals but then vote against the land of Israel yet again.

“In the next elections you’ll tell everyone that you are for the land of Israel. You have no influence on Netanyahu from within the Likud,” Ketzaleh charged.

Jewish Home Walks Out
Members of the Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party left the Knesset hall in protest as the government called on MKs to vote down the bill. Minister Daniel Hershkowitz of Jewish Home was originally chosen to represent the government in calling to vote down the bill, but he refused to do so and was replaced by Begin.