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E1 Construction Because of Bennett, Says Senior Minister

Senior cabinet minister says the announcement about building in E1 is tied to Netanyahu's fear of losing votes to Bennett's Bayit Yehudi.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 12/12/2012, 12:15 AM

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Israeli announcement about the building of new homes in the area known as E1, which connects between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim, was because of Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) chairman Naftali Bennett, a senior cabinet minister revealed on Tuesday.

While many believed that the announcement was a response to the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral move at the United Nations, the minister, who was not named, told Channel 10 News that the announcement was tied to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s fear that he would lose votes to Bennett in the upcoming election.

Polls have shown that the Jewish Home under Bennett is gaining strength. A Haaretz poll from Monday gave the party, which is running in a joint list with the Ichud Leumi (National Union), 11 seats.

"Netanyahu is thinking about the election and decided to build because of a fear of Naftali Bennett," the minister told Channel 10.

“Netanyahu’s goal was to create noise and fight Naftali Bennett to prevent votes from moving towards the right,” the minister continued. “Planning a neighborhood such as this is a matter of five years, not of one moment. When a new government is formed and the Americans will pressure Israel, this plan will be shelved as has happened in the past. The government will not build anything.”

Earlier on Tuesday, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas said that “Palestine” could pursue Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) if it pushes ahead with the building plans.

Responding to a question posed by reporters in Ankara as to whether the PA would employ its new upgraded states at the United Nations to file complaints against Israel at the ICC, Abbas replied in the affirmative, saying that such a move is only one of several options that would be considered.

"If Israel continues with this (settlement plan), we will respond using all methods, obviously peaceful, and including the court," said the PA chairman at a press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul.

Gul said that Israel was “playing with fire” with its plans to build in Jerusalem and the E1 area. “Israel's actions will just hurt her in the mid- and long-term, its isolation will grow, and its allies will be placed in a difficult position,” he said.