Karnei Shomron, Samaria
Karnei Shomron, SamariaIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) took part on Wednesday in a ceremony marking the start of construction of Ganey Shemer, a new neighborhood in the Samaria community of Karnei Shomron.

The new neighborhood contains 96 homes and it is part of "Karnei Shomron 2020" - a program put together by the Karnei Shomron Local Council in order to turn Karnei Shomron and surrounding communities into another “settlement bloc.”

Minister Ariel said at the ceremony that "every neighborhood being built in Samaria reduces the real estate crisis in the Dan region, and each house built in the Binyamin region contributes to the security of the Sharon region.”

“I, as Housing Minister, am committed to building throughout the country - in the Galilee, in Judea and Samaria, in the Negev and in the Golan Heights, thus lowering the housing prices and strengthening the Zionist enterprise.”

The head of the Karnei Shomron Local Council, Herzl Ben-Ari, said at the ceremony that the new neighborhood is "the first link in the Karnei Shomron 2020 program, and is our answer to the futile talks between Tzipi Livni and [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas.”

“Ganey Shemer in Karnei Shomron is our contribution to the national effort to lower housing prices,” he added. “I call on the residents of Gush Dan: Come live in Karnei Shomron. There is affordable housing combined with quality of life and community values.”

Earlier this week, Ariel attended a dedication ceremony for a new neighborhood called Leshem in the community of Aley Zahav. During that ceremony he declared that Israel will continue to build Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria, even as peace talks with the Palestinian Authority continue.

"Today we are placing another brick in Israel. I say in the clearest voice that I'm here to build you an apartment. And we do this everywhere in the country,” stated Ariel. “We’re building 300 units in Leshem just as we are building thousands of apartments in Rosh Haayin. We build in Kedumim just as we build in Kiryat Gat and in Modi’in. We build in Jerusalem just as we build in the Galilee.”

Those comments raised the ire of extreme leftist organization Gush Shalom, which responded by saying that Ariel is a provocateur.

Likud MKs who spoke to Arutz Sheva during Sunday’s ceremony said that building Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria is not an obstacle to peace and that Israeli construction must go on in these regions despite the peace process.

Despite having been informed of the Israeli building prior to the latest round of talks, and despite the fact that the construction will take place in areas which even the PA has accepted in previous negotiations will be within Israeli borders, Palestinian Authority officials and their supporters have expressed outrage at Israeli plans to build.