Plans for 10,000 homes over the pre-1967 lines were ready to be marketed in Jerusalem and West Bank settlements, the Minister for Construction and Housing Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said on Wednesday as he called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to solve his housing crisis by approving the projects.
“We have the ability to market 10,000 housing units in [east] Jerusalem and the settlement blocks in Judea and Samaria,” Ariel told the Knesset Finance Committee during a meeting on the housing budget for 2013-2014.
This includes plans for homes in the settlements of Beit Aryeh, Ofarim and Elkana, Ariel said.
Jerusalem is one of the areas in the country with an acute housing shortage, Ariel said. As a result, he said, prices have risen by 41% from 2008-2012, compared to a 27% hike in the rest of the country for that same period.
High purchase prices translate into high rental fees, he said.
He blamed the issue in part of the absence of building in east Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.
Ariel’s comments come in the midst of a de-facto freeze since January on the publication of housing tenders in east Jerusalem and West Bank settlements, as part of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s efforts to help create a supportive climate for US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to re-kindle the frozen peace talks with the Palestinians.
Meretz faction leader MK Zahava Gal-On accused Ariel of manipulating the situation to push for more housing over the pre-1967 lines.
The 2013-2014 budget includes NIS 56.5 million for security for Jews living in Israeli-Arab areas of east Jerusalem, could have been spent on public housing initiatives, Gal-On said.
Opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) called Ariel the only honest member of the coalition.
“Ariel took the mask off the face of the Netanyahu-Lapid-Bennett government,” Yacimovich stated. “Lapid promised cheaper housing, but enacts cruel budget cuts and raises taxes on middle-class homeowners without creating even one mechanism for stopping housing prices from skyrocketing. Then, he covers everything with empty slogans.”
At the same time, Yacimovich said, Ariel revealed the government’s total unwillingness to try to bring a peace treaty in trying to create a mass influx of young couples into settlements by only having inexpensive housing there.
Ariel’s housing plans will be “the death blow to our chances for a peace treaty.”
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Housing-Minister-says-ready-to-build-10000-homes-over-Green-Line-319410