The approval of 800 new homes in Jewish towns comes in the wake of the recent surge in Palestinian terrorist activity, but at a delicate time, since the recent Quartet report lambasted Jewish home-building in Judea & Samaria as, ‘undermining the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.’
By Shlomo Cesana & Israel Hayom Staff
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday approved the construction of 800 new homes in the greater Jerusalem area.
The plan includes the construction of 560 homes in the eastern Jerusalem suburb of Maaleh Adumim, 140 homes in the northeastern neighborhood of Ramot, 50 homes in the southeastern neighborhood of Har Homa, and 50 homes in the Pisgat Zeev neighborhood in east Jerusalem.
In addition, the government approved the construction of 600 homes in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa.
The approval comes in the wake of the recent surge in Palestinian terrorist activity and occurs at a delicate time, as a recent Quartet report lambasted Israeli policies on the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria as undermining the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Netanyahu was critical of the report, blasting its comparison of the alleged “Israeli crime” of settlement construction and the Palestinian crimes of incitement to violence and terrorism.
“Israel rejects any attempt to draw moral equivalence between [Israeli] construction and terrorism. We also reject the juxtaposition of Palestinian terrorism and the violence of fringe elements within Israeli society. The former is lauded by the Palestinian leadership, while the latter is utterly denounced by Israelis across the board,” a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office said.
“Those concerned with ensuring a Jewish majority in Israel’s capital cannot promote construction exclusively for the Arab population. The 600 homes approved in Beit Safafa are effectively the Arab portion of the future Givat Hamatos neighborhood,” Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin criticized in a Facebook post.
An official in the Prime Minister’s Office dismissed the criticism as “populist.”
Meanwhile, at Sunday’s Diplomatic-Security Cabinet meeting, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Lieberman faced off after Bennett demanded clarifications from military officials at the meeting on the prosecution of terrorists’ relatives. Lieberman instructed the officers not to reply, and he and Bennett argued over the matter.
Sources who were at the meeting told Israel Hayom the two had ironed out their differences by the time they attended the weekly cabinet meeting several hours later.
“I’ve been in office for a month and two days. I expect collegiality. If anyone has any [counterterrorism] suggestions they know how to reach me,” Lieberman said, referring to a plan Bennett outlined in a press release issued on Saturday evening. “Reading about such plans in the media is … as if we were to issue a press release about how to improve student performance in matriculation exams.”
Construction Minister Yoav Gallant also criticized Bennett’s move, saying, “A situation where a cabinet member undermines the forum is unacceptable.”
The Diplomatic-Security Cabinet’s five-hour meeting Sunday focused on new counterterrorism measures approved in its emergency session Saturday, called following the murder of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel in her Kiryat Arba home Thursday, and the deadly shooting Friday on Route 60, in the South Hebron Hills, in which Rabbi Michael Mark, 48, a father of 10 and the director of the Otniel Yeshiva, was killed and others in his family were injured.
“We are waging a relentless war on terror, and we’re employing diverse measures, including some we haven’t used in the past,” Netanyahu said.
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