Rabbi Zalman Melamed
Rabbi Zalman MelamedEliran Aharon

Rabbi Zalman Melamed, dean of the Beit El Yeshiva and a senior and venerable figure in the Religious Zionist community, castigated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday over his refusal to carry out his pledge to build close to 300 new housing units inside Beit El.

In 2013, the government granted preliminary approval for 296 new housing units in Beit El as part of an agreement reached with residents to secure the orderly evacuation of 30 families living in the Ulpana neighborhood, which was later demolished. Leftist NGOs claimed that the land on which the families lived, located within the borders of Beit El, was not state land and their claim was upheld by the Supreme Court.

To compensate Beit El for the evacuation, the Netanyahu government promised - publicly - 10 new homes for each on destroyed.

Despite that promise, however, no progress has been made on the construction of the 296 units in the intervening four years.

Rabbi Melamed, who was a party to the negotiations in 2013, said that it was now apparent that the Prime Minister had deceived him.

“The only person who deceived me was the Prime Minister, who on his reneged. He didn’t just harm me personally; I was a representative of the public – he harmed the residents of Beit El, harmed the 'settler' community, and harmed Religious Zionism. He made a mockery of Religious Zionism.”

But Rabbi Melamed said he would pursue the matter, and that supporters of Beit El would not back down.

“We won’t let this go away quietly until we get the [building] permits.”

“The Prime Minister must rectify this situation and grant the permits immediately; this is what we are working towards. The Prime Minister knows that our community will learn a lesson and there will be a [political] price to pay.”