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      Gov’t Won’t Repeat ‘Mistake to Announce a Construction Freeze’

      Likud Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis says the government won't announce a construction freeze in Jerusalem, Judea or Samaria.
      By Chana Ya'ar
      First Publish: 6/12/2013, 1:05 PM

      Gilo
      Gilo
      Flash 90

      Likud Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis says the government is not going to repeat the mistake of the prior government in announcing a construction freeze in Jerusalem, Judea or Samaria.

      "There was no official government decision on the housing units in question," Akunis said in response to a question about construction of new housing units in two Jerusalem neighborhoods, asked by Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) MK Ayelet Shaked on Wednesday.

      "On the contrary, nearly 1,000 units in Yesha (the Hebrew acronym for Yehuda and Shomron, or Judea and Samaria) are under construction," Akunis said. "As former Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan put it, ‘I love the sound of all these bulldozers and jackhammers.’"

      Shaked had asked the government why the sales of hundreds of housing units in the Jewish Jerusalem neighborhoods of Gilo and Ramat Shlomo, built in areas restored to the capital in the 1967 Six Day War, have been suspended.

      The Likud – and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – has come under increasing pressure to explain why there have been no new housing starts in Jerusalem for months, with accusations that Netanyahu has instituted an unofficial freeze on Jewish construction in areas restored to the capital in the 1967 Six Day War.

      There were no new construction projects in the northern and eastern parts of the capital, according to a report broadcast Monday on Army Radio.

      Unnamed government sources in several offices, including at least one in the Housing Ministry, all accused the prime minister of blocking the progress of building and other construction plans. They said "people in the Prime Minister’s Office" had made sure new "eastern Jerusalem" projects were stopped at the start.

      Housing starts in Judea and Samaria, by contrast, jumped from 313 to 865 in the period between January to March from 2012 to this year, according to figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics.