Minister Atias in Karnei Shomron
Minister Atias in Karnei ShomronIsrael News photo

Housing Minister Ariel Atias attended on Thursday the dedication ceremony of a new community center in the central Samaria community of Karnei Shomron.

During the ceremony, Minister Atias noted the absurdity that one is able to dedicate a public building and yet is unable to dedicate residential homes.

“In other governments there was a political process and there was construction,” said Atias. “Every year construction started on 3,000 new homes. Today, there is no political process and no construction. There is already a shortage of 6,000 housing units in Judea and Samaria.”

Atias added that “We will continue to make efforts to resume construction in Judea and Samaria.”

Atias’ comments come while construction of new Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria continues to be a problem. A 10-month construction freeze officially ended last October, but Defense Minister Ehud Barak  has refused to approve new building projects, a fact which has led to an unofficial building freeze.

Since Judea and Samaria is officially under military rule, Barak as Defense Minister has the final word on approving new construction projects. Recently, in an attempt to change this situation, MKs Miri Regev and Zeev Elkin of Likud submitted an urgent measure to declare that Barak is no longer in charge of authorizing Judea and Samaria construction.

The continued building freeze has resulted in a severe housing shortage in many communities. In Efrat, for example, 30 million shekels have been invested in developing new homes, but since the Defense Ministry does not give its approval for construction, nothing is being built and the state therefore cannot get back the major sums it invested in the area.

During Thursday’s event in Karnei Shomron, Mayor Herzl Ben-Ari congratulated Minister Atias and thanked him for assisting in bringing the community center to completion. Ben-Ari said that Karnei Shomron was blessed with a wonderful cultural and educational system and that the community is well-maintained, but that none of this can make up for what is lacking because of the construction freeze.

Ben-Ari praised Atias for his sincere efforts to try and find alternative ways to allow new Jewish construction in the region.

Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan also praised the efforts of the minister, but at the same time condemned the government for its rampant freezing of construction.

The ceremony was also attended by MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, Mayors Eliezer Hasdai of Alfei Menashe and Ezra Gershi of Emanuel, as well as by community residents.