Uri Ariel with hareidim at Tel Tzion (file)
Uri Ariel with hareidim at Tel Tzion (file) Flash 90

The Ministry of Housing and Construction's announcement last Friday that over 1,800 housing units in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria would be marketed in construction tenders earned condemnation from the Palestinian Authority (PA). Hareidi-religious Jews have now joined in the criticism.

PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat called the move "a message from (Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu to Kerry not to come back to the region to continue his efforts in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks."

Despite the fact that the tenders include two hareidi communities, with 102 housing units in Emanuel and 24 in Beitar Illit, hareidi news sources have attacked the announcement, and in particular Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel (Jewish Home).

Kikar Hashabbat reports that journalist Yaakov Reinitz criticized the planned construction in the hareidi paper Hamodia, calling it a sign of "blatant scorn for the hareidi public." Reinitz claimed the move favors Judea and Samaria residents over hareidim.

"The ignoring of a public so desperately in need of apartments is infuriating," wrote Reinitz. The criticism comes in context of the ongoing Israeli housing crisis, as real estate prices are soaring with limited areas allotted for construction.

"The current Housing Minister, in contrast to his predecessors, only cares about the 'knitted' (religious Zionist) public, as proven by the generous tenders going to the different settlements," argued Reinitz. "Ariel completely erases the hareidi public from the marketing map, and we shout against this."

The article attacks Ariel for his actions, particularly in light of the controversial planned laws obligating hareidi enlistment in the IDF.

"We have already resigned to the fact that Ariel with his friends are going to vote for the enlistment law of coercion, bu why is he fighting against the hareidim in the field of housing?" asked Reinitz.

Reinitz concludes by saying "it appears that Ariel has declared war on the hareidi public on all fronts, and he's leading the banner of rebellion in the field of housing which he was given responsibility for as housing minister."

The journal of the hareidi Degel Hatorah movement, Yated Ne'eman, has a similar article attacking the construction plans under the title "Announcement by the Construction Minister - an Insult to the Intelligence of the Hareidi Public."

D. Rozen, author of the piece, slams Ariel's claim that over 50% of the marketed apartments are for hareidim as a complete lie, noting that only 126 of the 800 planned units for Judea and Samaria are for hareidim, despite the fact that 40% of the population in the region is hareidi.

"This is another circuit in the degrading treatment of the hareidi public by the Construction Ministry in the current term," asserts the paper.

Other hareidi journals such as Hamevaser and Hapeles similarly attacked the announcement as being biased against hareidim.