Lawsuit over ‘De Facto Freeze’

Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman threatens to sue Barak for intentionally implementing a de facto building freeze in opposition to government policy.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 1:07 PM

Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman
Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman
Israel news photo: Yoni Kempinski

Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman has threatened to sue Defense Minister Ehud Barak for intentionally implementing a de facto building freeze in opposition to government policy.

"Barak is directing government policy independently and is intentionally blocking building plans in Judea and Samaria with a clear message to the Civil Lands Authority not to permit any plans without his personal approval," Nachman charged. "The Prime Minister and the government have not approved the execution of another building freeze and have given no instructions concerning a new freeze. Barak has placed Ariel under a freeze.”

Nachman said that “force is the only language Barak understands" and that if he continues to block new building, he will file a citizen’s suit against the Defense Minister.

The Cabinet last month rejected a renewal of the expired 10-month building freeze, demanded by the Palestinian Authority and the Obama administration to pave the way for renewed discussions on the establishment the Palestinian Authority as a new Arab country within Israel’s current borders.

Last year, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Cabinet approved an unprecedented 10-month building freeze to satisfy PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s condition for the resumption of talks. But Abbas subsequently backed away, claiming that the freeze was not extensive enough.

In early September, four weeks before the freeze expired, U.S. President Barack Obama managed to bring Prime Minister Netanyahu and Abbas together in Washington for discussions, but they focused primarily on procedural issues, such as the proposed renewal of a freeze. Three weeks later, Abbas abandoned the effort altogether when the 10-month moratorium expired on September 26 and was not renewed.

However, no new construction can be begun in Judea and Samaria without the Defense Minister's signature on a building permit. As this has not been forthcoming on any new construction, the only ongoing construction is that which was approved before the first freeze.