Jewish Home ministers: Netanyahu surprised us

July 4, 2016  

Ministers from the Jewish Home party admitted at a faction meeting on Monday that they were surprised by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to approve the construction of hundreds of housing units for Arabs in Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem.

“The Prime Minister surprised us,” said the ministers, who made clear that the move was decided upon by Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and that they had not been consulted beforehand.

The housing plan approved Sunday night includes 600 units for the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa, expanding the neighborhood into Givat HaMatos and creating Arab territorial continuity across southern Jerusalem.

Givat HaMatos, currently a sparsely populated area with dozens of families living in caravans, has been the center piece of plans to link the Jewish neighborhood of Har Homa to the rest of the city.

With the announcement Sunday, however, of the 600 new Arab units in Givat HaMatos, a continuous stretch of Arab settlement will be created, stretching from Beit Safafa to Sur Baher.

At Monday’s Jewish Home faction meeting – which was closed to journalists – the ministers and MKs discussed the planned steps of the party in order to halt the current wave of terror while striving to restore calm in Israeli cities.

A member of the Jewish Home told Arutz Sheva on Monday night that “the time has come to make courageous policy decisions and apply Israeli sovereign to our homeland, including Maale Adumim, Gush Etzion, Ariel and other areas that were liberated fifty years ago. This is a right, Zionist, responsible and necessary move, and we are committed to its implementation, and hope the other factions will join our call.”

Earlier on Monday, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin warned that the plans as approved would be “devastating”.

”Here is the issue, promoting Jewish [construction] on Givat HaMatos is a strategic goal in order to create a continuous strip of Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. It is also necessary to accommodate the very severe shortage of housing in Jerusalem for the Jewish sector. The struggle over construction in Givat HaMatos has been going on for several years. As I recall, after the UN vote to recognize the Palestinians, the Cabinet advanced building plans for Givat HaMatos, but eventually it was stopped due to American and European pressure,” he told Arutz Sheva.

“It was always clear that when building in this neighborhood [of Beit Safafa] advanced it would be together [with housing for Jews and Arabs build in tandem]. However now they will build only the Arab area and nothing is happening with the Jewish part. You cannot have such a strategic neighborhood in Jerusalem and promoted only the Arab section.”

“This building itself is not the problem. [The problem is] promotion [of construction] which ignores construction for Jews. In principle it cannot be the case that the restrictions apply only to Jews and [we must think of] the long-term consequences of this.”

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