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Activists: 'Unofficial' Building Freeze in Effect

Ever since Israel and the PA have resumed talks, building plans in Judea and Samaria have crawled to a halt, activists said.
By David Lev
First Publish: 11/7/2013, 10:48 AM

Gilo construction (file)
Gilo construction (file)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

While the government recently announced the construction of thousands of new homes in Judea and Samaria, activists in the region have complained that the government is not allowing the building of homes that ostensibly received the green light for construction in the past.

In a special report, the Besheva newspaper, the print journalism arm of Arutz Sheva, said that the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria – which has the final say on when building can proceed – has actually blocked construction of new homes.

According to the report, the unofficial building freeze that the Civil Administration has decided to implement has been going on for months, essentially since Israel and the Palestinian Authority reopened negotiations, in talks sponsored by the U.S.

The freeze affects homes for which ground has not been broken, as the Civil Administration is the authority that schedules when construction can begin. Projects where construction began before this new policy was implemented are not affected, but activists said that without new homes in the “pipeline,” there was going to be a major shortage of housing in Judea and Samaria within several years.

The report said that sources in the government told Ze'ev Haver (“Zombish”), the chaiman of the Amana housing organization, that Civil Administration officials were ordered by upper management to implement the freeze, but not to admit that a freeze had been implemented. Delays are to be blamed on “technical” details, such as lack of a specific permit, a signature by an official who was indisposed, etc

The report said that the government was also involved in the decision. Hearings on new building plans, a required step before authorization of building plans, have been “postponed” as well since the talks began.

Activists said that the current situation is exactly the opposite of what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised before the talks started. Netanyahu reportedly met with community leaders in Judea and Samaria and asked them not to overly protest the talks. In return, he promised that he would not stand in the way of any construction that was to take place withing the “settlement blocs,” areas within the security fence that Israel has declared it plans to retain in any final status agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

Only in recent days, the activists said, were some of those plans approved, in conjunction with the release of terrorists, part of the “gesture” Israel undertook in order to persuade the PA to return to the negotiating table.

Civil Administration officials refused to discuss the report when contacted by Besheva. The Prime Minister's Office, which oversees the Civil Administration, has not commented either, the newspaper said.