Report: Netanyahu to Begin Building Freeze in Judea and Samaria
The Prime Minister's Office will institute another building freeze in Judea and Samaria next week, Maariv reports Tuesday.
Unconfirmed "Israeli officials" stated to the daily that the government - which is also set to release 24 more Arab terrorists as part of the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) - has postponed marketing plans for Judea and Samaria land for the time being. The result: a de facto building freeze in the region.
If true, the news confirms reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been preventing new building in Judea and Samaria, and that the go-ahead for new projects is exclusively in his hands.
On Sunday, Bentzi Liberman, the head of the Israel Lands Authority stated, “the marketing in Judea and Samaria is diplomatic-political, and the Prime Minister is one of the only ones who gives authorizations."
Approvals for construction in Judea and Samaria “are not in the 2014 work plan,” Liberman said.
In addition, the IDF complained earlier this month that the Prime Minister has been preventing plans from going through which would allow military academies to be built on Mount Scopus. The plans had been approved in 2012, but have been postponed multiple times because of red tape, according to the official.
"If they had not stopped me, I could have gotten it done a long time ago," says a source involved with the details of the project. "The trouble is that we have reached a situation where nothing can advance in the city without the approval of higher politicians. Sometimes the smallest actions require the approval of the prime minister [himself]," according to the source.
"Only when we release terrorists, or when the Palestinian Authority turns to the United Nations, does the Prime Minister's Office give us permission to build. This is an abnormal situation," the source concluded.
Maariv quotes a "political source" who insists that the move stems from continuing pressure from Europe and the United States not to link a terrorist release with construction in the region, as Netanyahu has done in the past. The source claims that both foreign national bodies warned that more building would torpedo the ongoing peace talks between Israel and the PA.
The PA has continually denied to the international media that it agreed to allow more construction in Jewish villages in Judea and Samaria as part of the agreement.
International pressure regarding building over 1949 Armistice lines has been escalating over the past several months. PA leaders recently threatened to end diplomatic talks if Israel does not cancel building tenders for roughly 20,000 homes in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
The US and EU have been strongly critical of Israeli construction as well. Both have linked "settlements" to the success of talks, and have put enormous pressure on Israel to successfully implement a two-state solution.
US Secretary of State John Kerry will allegedly present an interim deal to Israel in January 2014; reports indicate that he will "force" a deal on the Prime Minister which would include major withdrawals from Judea and Samaria over a 5-10 year period.
The EU, meanwhile, has offered an enormous economic aid package to both the PA and Israel in the event that talks succeed.