'There are permits - but almost no construction'

Agriculture Minister welcomes new building permits for Judea and Samaria - but adds that few houses are actually being built.

Hezki Baruch ,

Minister Uri Ariel
Minister Uri Ariel
Hezki Baruch

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) welcomed the building permits for housing units in Judea and Samaria which were issued last week, but said he was waiting for the actual construction to take place.

"We are in a difficult period, and it requires fundamental change. When we examine what happened with the permits after we approve the housing units, we find that almost no housing units have been started. There are all kinds of technical delays, and I hope that this situation will change," Minister Ariel told Arutz Sheva.

What are the goals of the Jewish Home and the National Union for the Knesset's winter session?

"Continued strengthening of construction in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. At the same time, the entire social issue in the field of education and and the social conditions of the people. In the field of agriculture, we succeeded in changing the outline of the allocation of water for the next year, because we are concerned that it will be a drought year, We take drought years into account, along with the farmers, and we [thereby] allow the farmers to develop."

Ariel referred to the dispute between the Jewish Home and the Likud in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on the subject of the law against the investigations of an incumbent prime minister. "The ministerial committee's meeting was finished with record speed today. All the laws [which were brought up at the meeting] were rejected until next week. A believe that next week, [Justice Minister Ayelet] Shaked and [Coalition Chairman David] Bitan will reach understandings between them. The message to the MKs was that they would have a short day."

Ariel also addressed the security situation on Israel's northern border, which has seen errant rocket strikes spill over from the Syrian civil war. "We have to be concerned, but not hysterical. Our enemies want to hurt us constantly and arm themselves - and a front has been created there which includes Hezbollah and others, which is a cause for concern. I think that the state and the IDF are preparing in the best possible manner and if necessary, they knew how to strike the enemy vigorously. The State of Israel currently enjoys security, and the last few months have been quiet."

As Agriculture Minister, Ariel has had to deal with the phenomenon of 'agricultural terror,' in which agricultural products are stolen from Jewish farmers. Last Shabbat, 67 Arabs, who had entered Israel illegally, stole tons of grapes and tomatoes from the town of Shekef in the Lakhish Regional Council.

"We unfortunately have seen more agricultural terror, and I have turned to the justice minister, the minister of public security and the deputy defense minister to deal with the matter. We have to punish the thieves severely and block the water and fence crossings in order to change this situation.

Can such acts of thievery be defined as terrorist actions?

"There is hostile terrorist activity here, there is vandalism and fear for human life, and those who steal can also harm [residents]," he said.