Daily Israel Report

Peace Now: Freeze? What Freeze?

Left-wing NGO says current government has thus far approved more than 1,500 housing units in Judea, Samaria
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 7/22/2013, 11:08 AM

Building in Modi'in Illit
Building in Modi'in Illit
Flash 90

Peace Now, a far-left group that opposes any Jewish presence in the mountainous Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, says that nationalist complaints of a building freeze are unjustified.

The present government, it says, has carried out large scale construction in Judea and Samaria.

According to Peace Now, the government that was sworn in in March has thus far approved over 1,500 housing units in Judea and Samaria.

According to the group's complaints, which were quoted in IDF Radio, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has approved plans for enlarging a number of communities in Judea and Samaria, including Shiloh, Beit El, Nofei Prat, Almog and Alei Zahav.

Three hundred of the units Peace Now is referring to are the ones that are supposed to be built in Beit El, following the prime minister's promise to do so after the High Court insisted on the destruction and relocation of several buildings in the Ulpana Neighborhood last year.

Another 1,000 units are planned in Alei Zahav, in Samaria.

Yaalon has also approved 3,600 units that were already approved at an earlier stage of planning by his predecessor in office, Ehud Barak.

Peace Now's complaints notwithstanding, it should be noted that none of the approvals are final permits for construction on the ground. Rather – they are all approvals for future plans that require further approvals from the political echelon before they turn into actual building sites.

Peace Now chairman Yariv Oppenheimer told the radio station: “Despite the talk of a quiet freeze and a reining-in of contruction policy in the territories, the present government is advancing construction plans at an unprecedented scale.”

"It appears that in the Israeli summer, the word 'freeze' is a particularly fluid one,” he added. 

Nationalists have been saying for years that the Netanyahu government has imposed a de facto freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria, and have expressed concern that a resumption of "peace talks" with the Palestinian Authority might be accompanied by a continuation of this freeze.

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon has said that he would fight any decision to impose such a freeze.