Uri Ariel to Leftists: Bring it On

Housing Minister dismisses criticism over housing, encourages right-wing voters to attend polls and the rally Sunday for a secure Israel.

Shimon Cohen and Tova Dvorin,

Uri Ariel
Uri Ariel
Flash 90

A few hours before the large right-wing rally in Rabin Square Sunday, Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) has called on supporters to attend the rally - and, more importantly, to vote in the 20th Knesset elections on Tuesday. 

Ariel, speaking in a special interview with Arutz Sheva on Sunday, attributed two main factors to the "coma of the Right," whereby a significant percentage of voters identifying with right-wing parties are reportedly opting out of voting at all. 

The first is the deluge of information on social networks. Large parts of the nation are not exposed to parties' social networking campaigns, he noted, and are thus left out of the predominant political discourse which embeds the importance of voting and the issues in the public consciousness.

The second, he opined, is a sense of complacency by many voters that others who do go to vote will ensure a right-wing government.

Ariel was then asked about statements arising from the Right, which affirm that there is no chance for a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in any event - and thus, if a left-wing government is formed, it could smash the illusion that leftists are better for the national-security situation. 

Ariel opined that such an assessment is true - and it should be made clear to the public that there will not be a Palestinian state due to a lack of a diplomatic partner for talks - but that a leftist government would still implement a construction freeze, the High Court for Justice will still dole out rulings that uproot communities in Judea and Samaria, and that it could be "bad enough to make people leave their homes" and thus pave the way for a potential agreement. 

As for the issue of the housing crisis - the key talking point of the 2015 elections - Ariel revealed that housing prices actually fell in the first quarter of 2015, but an official report on the quarter cannot be published due to the elections. 

"The public, in some polls, thinks that the prime minister is in charge," he stated. "There is truth in that [when it comes to the issue of] building, there are a number of offices [involved], not only the Ministry of Construction, such as law offices, the Finance Ministry, and others." Such coordination - an outcome not only determined by who is prime minister, but also what kind of coalition he would form - determines the building process from beginning to end, he stated. 

Ariel is convinced that without lowering the cost of living and the efforts expended to that end by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), the situation would be even worse. As it is, he noted, some 51,000 units are being marketed - an all-time record. 

"Never has the Construction Ministry marketed so much and done so much in this area as we have over the past two years," he said. 

Ariel had confidence that Sunday night's rally would be a success, and dismissed fears over a lack of attendance based on "what I see and hear on the ground," in his words. 

When asked about the fear of friction which may be created by a counter-demonstration organized by far-left Meretz members at the right-wing rally, Ariel responded that he's unafraid of conflict. 

"People will not come to fight, but to express their opinion in favor of Israel, for new communities across the country, the Negev, the Galilee and Judea and Samaria," he said. "We are not concerned with Meretz. They can demonstrate and get their few seconds of exposure."

"Meretz is in the most miserable state; it's close to getting the kiss of death and will do anything for more votes," he added, referring to the party's nosedive in polls. "It just reinforces our people to do more. It will drive our people to attend the rally tonight and do their best for our country."