MK Betzalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) is bothered by the Security Cabinet’s agreement to restrain building in Judea and Samaria and build only within the boundaries of existing communities except for extenuating circumstances.
“The decision of the Cabinet is very worrying,” he said. “Although it does leave some maneuvering room during the test of action in the field, experience has shown that Netanyahu does very badly on tests that have to produce results. There is no reason to think that, this time, it will be any different.”
Smotrich pointed out as evidence what he saw as Netanyahu’s effective admission yesterday that he had instructed a halt in the marketing of 2,000 housing units out of those approved two months ago, after his office had denied that this was the case.
“This admission, along with the fact that since the elections in the US the supreme planning council in Judea and Samaria has not convened - which means that the plans the Prime Minister ‘approved’ were not advanced, shows that the 5,500 housing units presumably approved was nothing more than a bluff - as I asserted then. As I said, there is no foundation to the assumption that it will be different this time.”
Spmotrich emphasized: “We will have to be monitoring, and we can’t let Netanyahu let construction plans fade into nowhere.”
The Jewish Home party has demanded the convening of the supreme planning council immediately following the Passover holiday in order to put the Security Cabinet decision to immediate test. “We will put on the council’s table all the plans which need to be decided upon and we’ll see whether the PM will approve progress on them or not. If he doesn’t approve them, we will be unable to open the summer session of the Knesset in a normal way,” Smotrich threatened.
Smotrich’s statements come as Netanyahu told the ministers at last night’s cabinet meeting that, taking into account Trump's positions, Israel will take significant steps to reduce the expansion of the built-up areas of Judea and Samaria.
He added that Israel would significantly reduce new construction in the region "in order to allow for progress in the peace process."
As part of the new policy, Israel will build within the existing built-up areas, wherever possible, and wherever possible, Israel will build near the existing construction line.
In places where these two criteria cannot be met due to legal, security or topographical constraints, Israel will allow construction in the area closest to the existing construction line.
Although this is less than hoped for, it is a positive change from Obama's forced freeze, during which every type of construction, even a porch added to an existing house, was banned.
Netanyahu also clarified to the ministers that Israel would not allow the establishment of new unorganized outposts.