Housing Minister Uri Ariel: Building Plans Not Canceled Yet
Uri Ariel (Jewish Home), Minister of Housing and Construction, denied Wednesday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has canceled plans to build 24,000 new Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria.
In an interview with Channel 2, Ariel insisted that there have been "no reprimands, no retractions, no building" and that "nothing is exact."
"We have made many plans so that we could get to the marketing and building stages of the project, and over several years we will roll out plans for hundreds of thousands of housing units all over Israel, including in Judea and Samaria," he said.
He explained that the project begins with outsourcing; only then will legal tenders be issued.
Ariel also stated that he met with the PM one additional time Wednesday, where the PM explained to him that the move comes at a sensitive time, and that they had to act delicately in the current political climate.
Netanyahu announced on the Knesset podium earlier Wednesday that he was canceling the building plans to prevent "an unnecessary confrontation with the international community at a time when we are making an effort to persuade elements in the international community to reach a better deal with Iran." US officials, who are mediating the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, have made numerous references over the past week indicating that continued sanctions on Iran depend on the peace talks' success.
Ariel also denies that his announcement for the building plans has anything to do with recent reports that the talks have failed, after PA negotiators have refused to continue participating in negotiations. "The negotiations have been stuck for a long time, because the Palestinians refuse to give up the Right of Return," he noted.
He believes that the pullout is just a dramatic ploy, and that talks will continue. "[Abbas] will return to the negotiation table," he said.
Regarding statements made Wednesday by the extreme Leftist group Peace Now that they caused the cancellation of building plans by alerting the White House of the news, Ariel declared that tactics which "do not recognize Israel as a democracy" will "not succeed."