Despite international pressure, the government continues with its preparations for a wave of construction in settlements at the end of the temporary building freeze. The most recent promise comes from Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias, who said Monday night that his ministry was preparing for construction throughout the West Bank.
Speaking at a Torah dedication ceremony in the settlement of Maale Hever in Mount Hebron, Atias said his ministry is doing "everything to be ready with plans for tenders the day the freeze ends."
The 10-month construction freeze is slated to come to an end on September 26, 2010. "We are moving forward with our plans to ensure an available supply of apartments to market at the end of the freeze."
Minister Atias in Maale Hever on Monday
The minister's comments are in line with statements made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other ministers, who have in the past announced that they would insist that the freeze ends on its set date.
Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who also visited Mount Hebron last week, said construction throughout the entire West Bank will continue after the freeze.
Monday night Atias also visited the synagogue at Kiryat Arba's Patriarchs' Hill and attended the inauguration of the makeshift building constructed there four months ago, after the construction freeze was announced.
MK Uri Ariel, Kiryat Arba Rabbi Dov Lior and city council head Malachi Levinger also attended the ceremony.
At the synagogue, the minister stressed the "importance of building the city of the patriarchs" and vowed to do his utmost to assist future construction and development in the community.
The Kiryat Arba council head thanked Atias for his participation in the event and expressed his hopes that the minister will "continue to build all over the land of Israel."
In response to Atias' statements, Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer said such remarks "compromise negotiations and reveal the government's plan to deepen its hold of the territories."
He added, "Resuming construction in the territories is a historic mistake which will cause an unprecedented isolation of Israel in the world."