In a near-counterintuitive move, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu imposed a building freeze in Judea and Samaria after the talks with the Palestinian Authority fell apart several weeks ago. Ironically, it was just such a freeze that the PA had demanded as the price for keeping the talks going.
As a result of the freeze, Housing Minister Uri Ariel on Sunday abstained in a vote to allocate a budget to buy a plane for the use of Netanyahu, sources told Arutz Sheva Sunday.
Ariel in recent days has had numerous discussions with Netanyahu, trying to persuade him to take advantage of the cesssation of the talks to go on a major building campaign in Judea and Samaria. The plane, which would be used by Netanyahu on his trips abroad, will cost the government NIS 70 million.
According to the sources, Netanyahu imposed the building freeze in order to make it appear that Israel was not taking advantage of the end of the talks, as a signal that Israel was interested in continuing talks. By freezing the building, Netanyahu believes, he will cause world leaders to increase pressure on PA chief Mahmoud Abbas to continue the talks.