Responding to a report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to "pause" construction in Judea and Samaria in response to a request from the Biden administration, Finance Minister and minister within the Ministry of Defense Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism) has stressed his insistence that there will be no building freeze, "period."
According to the report, Netanyahu agreed not only to dramatically downscale building in Judea and Samaria, but also to cease all demolitions of illegally built Arab homes in Area C.
A statement from the Religious Zionism party said: "There will be no construction freeze in Judea and Samaria, period. There will be no damage done to Israeli deterrence against terrorists, period. There will be no continuation of illegal construction and Arab land-grabbing in open areas, period."
Minister of National Missions Orit Strock (Religious Zionism) stated, "A nationalistic government does not freeze the settlement of the Land of Israel, and certainly does not abandon its land to Palestinian land-grabbers." MK Ohad Tal added, "I am opposed to any form of freeze. The State of Israel is a sovereign state and its policies must not be influenced by external parties.
"I rely on the Prime Minister and am confident that he comprehends the importance of this issue and that he will not allow external parties to intervene and influence policies," he continued. "Construction in Judea and Samaria is not just a matter of security. It is also critical for driving growth and bringing down the prices of food and housing."
Meanwhile, on Monday the Haaretz newspaper published an article reporting on a closed meeting between Finance Minister Smotrich and the leaders of the Yesha Council, during which Smotrich asked the Yesha heads to take steps to ensure that no new illegal outposts are erected in Judea or Samaria in the near future.
At the opening of his party's meeting on Monday, Smotrich explained the request, saying that, "Our ambition is not to have to resort to illegal measures. We want the government to officially adopt a policy of recognizing all the communities in the settlements and also, of establishing new communities, in line with natural growth. None of us considers himself above the law. We are the government, and this will take more than a day or two, but I'm convinced that we'll see substantial changes occurring in the near future."
MK Zeev Elkin (National Unity) responded to the reports, writing on Twitter: "A 'completely right-wing government' has agreed to limit construction in Judea and Samaria? And also to stop demolitions of illegally built homes? Is Smotrich awake? Is Strock still in the government? At least Ben-Gvir has his pitta* agreement under his belt."
*Last week, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir ordered the closure of two prison bakeries where Arab security prisoners were baking their own pitta for inmates.