Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin NetanyahuFlash 90

Leaders of Judea and Samaria expressed their outrage over Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's de facto construction freeze, after reports Monday revealed he cancelled 2,500 housing units in the region and Jerusalem due to international pressure.

"The prime minister vowed to advance programs and start construction, but in reality after this type of (building) advancement is published everything is stopped," unnamed leaders of Judea and Samaria communities told the Hebrew news site Walla! on Monday.

Noting on the deceptive nature of the de facto freeze, they added "you have to understand that so many times it's published that they approved building housing units, but in actuality it's just a certain stage of advancing the project and not construction."

For example, the local leaders noted that in the Samaria town of Itamar, "which exists for dozens of years already, it was published several times that the government approved building, but actually after each publication there was an outcry against the process and it wasn't given final approval."

"In this way a town that is so veteran and whose development is funded by the state in effect exists without an approved program," they revealed.

"Systematic" neglect of regional development

Regional leaders told Walla! that the de facto construction freeze takes new reasons all the time, supporting reports that Netanyahu admitted to them in May that he was instituting an unofficial housing freeze in the region, even after the collapse of peace talks in April. 

"It appears to be systematic. In effect there is no advancement in projects other than the approval of educational institutions in communities," they noted.

"At the start they told us there are peace talks and they can't advance projects, then the claim was that due to not releasing terrorists in the fourth batch they don't want to anger the world," recounted the local leaders.

Their comments refer to the peace talks Netanyahu engaged accompanied by terrorist releases as a "gesture," which he chose instead of a building freeze as a pre-condition, but apparently unofficially implemented both anyway.

"Later, the excuse was the abduction (and murder) of the (three Israeli) teens, and now its (fallout from) Operation Protective Edge," continued the local leaders. "Each time the reason changes but the result is the same: the prime minister is not advancing projects in Judea and Samaria. Even the governments of (Yitzhak) Rabin and (Ehud) Barak built a lot more in Judea and Samaria."

The regional leaders promised they would "not remain silent for very long," saying several months ago they raised objections until Netanyahu finally met with them and promised to deal with the issue - something they say has not led to "any change in reality."

"If we see that the situation is not dealt with we will start a large campaign against the prime minister, and will weigh every move to cause serious public pressure on him. You can't stop the lives of residents of Judea and Samaria, they can't be stopped," they added.

"A very serious problem"

Davidi Perl, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council in Judea, told the news source "there's a very serious problem here, and they must allow more building in Judea and Samaria. It's a shame that the prime minister is making accounts with the Americans. The time has come to be concerned about ourselves."

Joining in Perl's criticism, Yesha Council Deputy Director-General Yigal Dilmoni added "today the planning processes were stopped and also construction bids that were promised aren't being realized, all that's left is just an announcement on state land - this status can't continue for any length of time."

"The construction in Judea and Samaria is an economic interest for the state of Israel - only in this way can we bring a large supply of housing and lower housing prices in the state of Israel," noted Dilmoni, referring to the housing crisis in Israel. In this context it is worth noting that reportedly over 90% of Judea and Samaria remains unpopulated.