Official: Bennett trying to make political gains

Senior political official claims Bennett knew for a while that construction plans for Judea and Samaria would be approved.

Ido Ben Porat,

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Emil Salman/POOL

A senior political official on Tuesday accused Jewish Home chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett of trying to make political gains at the expense of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

According to the unnamed official, Bennett knew that plans for construction in Judea and Samaria would be approved toward the end of September, but he nevertheless issued a statement to the press on Sunday in which he stated that he had demanded that Netanyahu commit to approving the plans.

Netanyahu assured Bennett at the weekly meeting of coalition leaders on Sunday that a number of new building projects in Israeli towns across Judea and Samaria will be approved later this month, including a replacement neighborhood for the evicted former residents of the town of Migron.

Netanyahu made the assurance after Bennett pressed him to set a deadline for the issuing of permits for proposed building projects.

"The Prime Minister announced already in August that the Supreme Planning Council of the Civil Administration will convene in September, long before the meeting of the coalition leaders in which Bennett demanded that Council be convened and the construction be approved," the source said.

According to the official, Bennett sought to make political gains at Netanyahu’s expense and to present himself as the one who demanded, and subsequently received, the construction permits.

"The leaders of the settlement enterprise and the coalition know about the plan to convene the Planning Council in September, so Bennett's statement is quite puzzling," the official stated.

The discussion in the Supreme Planning Council, which was supposed to convene this week to approve the construction of thousands of housing units in Judea and Samaria, was postponed for several weeks due to the fact that Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas will address the UN General Assembly prior to the High Holidays. Israel did not want to provide any “ammunition” to the PA before Abbas’s speech.

Last week, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman boasted of the thousands of building permits in Judea and Samaria he issued in the 15 months since taking office, and stated that there is currently greater momentum in construction than there has been since 2000.

"From the beginning of 2017 up to now, 1,400 housing units have been approved for marketing, and another 3,400 have been approved for planning procedures. In addition, there are another 7,000 housing units that are ready to go for planning," he said.