Maale Adumim Mayor Benny Kasriel slammed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his decision to freeze tenders for construction in the E1 area, between his city and Jerusalem. Kasriel said that the move reeked of weakness, and he called on Netanyahu to immediately remove the freeze.
“Never before has there been a freeze for land planning,” Kasriel said. “This is purely a municipal procedural step, a which could take three to five years to complete. The tenders that were issued were for a very preliminary stage of work. Freezing the project at this stage shows nothing but weakness.”
Last week the Housing Ministry published tenders for the planning of a neighborhood in Area E1, the area that connects Maale Adumim to Jerusalem -- the area where Netanyahu pledged to build on the eve of the elections.
According to a report by Galei Tzahal (Army Radio), as soon as the Prime Minister heard that they were out, he put out a freeze on the tenders. At the same time, the Ministry announced plans for the construction of more than 20,000 housing units in Yehuda and Samaria, and East Jerusalem.
Kasriel is demanding that Netanyahu keep his promise. “Until now, freezes were imposed only at the stage of selling lots for development, and we are nowhere near that stage,” he said. “In Maale Adumim we have a natural growth of 700 people a year. All of our kindergartens are full, and kids that grow up want to establish their homes here as well. Unfortunately there is no room for them, and they have to leave the city. The government does not do this to Palestinians, all the more so this should not be done to us.”
Regarding the claims by Netanyahu that the current period was not an advantageous one for issuing tenders, preliminary as they might be, Kasriel said “there is never a 'good time' for construction. If we go solely by what the Americans say there certainly will never be an opportunity to build. The government must be strong enough to say it is going ahead with construction, especially in the settlement blocs” which it claims it plans on keeping in the event of any deal with the PA.