Daniella Weiss, one of the leaders of the Nahala movement for Jewish settlement in the land of Israel, responded on Tuesday to the confirmation by Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) that there is indeed a new ban on Israeli construction east of the 1949 armistice line, including in eastern Jerusalem.
Ariel told Army Radio that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had ordered him to freeze construction bids in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem following United States President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel.
Weiss, who spoke to Arutz Sheva, praised Ariel for his courage in publicly confirming the new construction freeze, and called on Netanyahu to live up to his election promises and build in these areas, particularly in the E1 area which connects Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim.
"Uri Ariel needed courage to admit this sad information, it was not easy for him to reveal this, because it was a secret that was consistently hidden by Netanyahu,” she said. “But every secret has a limit, the construction freeze has been going on for a month or two and it’s a good thing that this secret came out so the public could have its say.”
Weiss said that members of the Nahala movement plan on spending this coming Shabbat in the E1 area and that a massive rally, to be attended by government ministers and other Knesset Members, is planned for Saturday night.
Building in E1, she noted, is a moral obligation.
"Our goal is to break this secret construction freeze and we’ve chosen the most critical location in which to do it,” said Weiss. “Even Maale Adumim Mayor Benny Kasrhiel has said that enough is enough, that he has no more housing units for the next generation. E1 is inseparable from Maaleh Adumim, and if we do not build there, the Bedouin will take control of this area.”
The Obama administration has been critical of all new construction projects in Israeli towns and neighborhoods east of the line. An estimated 600,000 Israeli Jews live in those areas, where they make up an increasingly large percentage of the total population.
Israel approved construction in the E1 area after the Palestinian Authority was recognized by the United Nations as a non-member observer state, in a unilateral move by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in violation of the Oslo Accords.
Netanyahu faced international criticism after the government approved new construction in the area and shortly before Obama’s visit to the region in March it was reported that the city of Jerusalem had postponed a meeting to discuss the establishment of a landfill adjacent to E1. It was speculated that the Prime Minister's Office had ordered the city to postpone the discussion, as a result of the international criticism.
"Netanyahu has said in the past that there is a need to build in the area which connects Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim, and it is our expectation that the Israeli government fulfills its promises,” said Weiss.