'Building Freeze Must Also Apply to Palestinians'

Housing Minister Uri Ariel says he opposes any building freeze, but takes issue with 'blatant discrimination' between Jews and Arabs.

Hillel Fendel ,

Uri Ariel
Uri Ariel
Flash 90

Housing Minister Uri Ariel, who has been waging a tough battle against the de-facto freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, now says, "At least it should include Arab construction too!"

In a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yaalon on Friday, Ariel wrote that he has learned that a large number of housing projects for residents of Palestinian Authority-run areas are being advanced – even as Jewish construction is on halt.

Among the Arab towns in which construction is being planned or advanced are Beit Jalla (between Jerusalem and Bethlehem), Um Rihan (northwestern Samaria), Brukin (near Ariel), and more.

Minister Ariel emphasized that under no circumstances does he accept the freeze on Jewish growth in Judea and Samaria – but at least, if the present government insists on such a policy, Arab construction in the same areas should be frozen as well.

"This is a blatant case of discrimination," wrote Ariel, who served in the past as head of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria and as Mayor of Beit El, "and I demand that the Defense Minister [as official governor of IDF-controlled Judea and Samaria – ed.] take immediate action to end this."

Maariv reports that Ariel told his Knesset colleagues in the Jewish Home party last week that Netanyahu feels compelled to freeze Jewish construction in order to ensure that the United States continue to veto UN resolutions towards the establishment of a Palestinian state. Ariel said that President Obama is resolute to establish such a state before his term in office ends, two years from now.