The end of the settlement building moratorium is symbolic for now, with the real test of the government's intentions being east Jerusalem construction, Housing Minister Ariel Atias told Ynet Monday.
"We won't see thousands of new housing units in Judea and Samaria tomorrow," the minister said, as construction resumed across the West Bank amid settler celebrations. "The real test would be to see the defense minister approving the many construction permits currently on his desk."
"For the time being, everything is symbolic," Atias said. "Everyone is waiting to see whether we shall have new construction in east Jerusalem. We must not get used to a situation where construction is delayed because of problematic timing…the Palestinian Authority must not bring Israel down to its knees."
'Shas won't back another freeze'
Atias said he wants to see immediate construction in east Jerusalem neighborhoods Ramot and Har Homa.
"More than 250,000 residents live there, and these sites are within the consensus," he said. "We must not let this habit (construction delays) turn into a second nature. We aspire to start building gradually, while at the same time continuing the diplomatic process, which is also an Israeli interest."
"Shas didn't like the freeze, but allowed it to go ahead," he said. "We don't aim to create crises, but it's difficult for us – diplomatically publically, and politically. We pray for peace, yet wish to reach a situation whereby normal life goes on simultaneous to the process. Another freeze is something we cannot agree to."