Quiet settlement freeze: Netanyahu denies, Ariel thinks otherwise
Prime Minister states no restrictions exist on construction in territories, says all in coordination with Housing Minister Ariel. Minister replies: ‘It never happened.’ Confidants of minister: ‘Ready to market thousands of apartments, but in practice it is not happening’
During the faction meeting for Likud-Beiteinu on Monday night, Netanyahu was asked about restrictions on building in the territories on the backdrop of the political process. Attendees at the meeting told Ynet that Netanyahu replied there are no restrictions in place on construction, and that Israel had not committed to a freeze. He added that things are coordinate via Housing Minister Ariel.
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Following this, Deputy Minister Danny Danon requested of Ariel a response in regard to Netanyahu’s statement. Ariel replied to Danon's question in a handwritten letter, "I listened in amazement when the prime minister said at a Likud faction meeting that there were no limits on construction in Jerusalem and that this was coordinated with Minister Uri Ariel.”
Handwritten reply from Ariel to Dannon
“I hereby announce: This never happened," Ariel wrote in response.
Sources close to the minister clarified that tenders for construction in the settlements were not going out for a clear reason – they would not be promoted. A Housing Ministry official added, "We are ready at any time to market thousands of units in Jerusalem, but the test of reality is that this does not happen. Anyone can draw a clear conclusion why."
Deputy Defense Minister Danon said to Ynet in response, "Given that the prime minister and housing and construction minister say that there is nothing stopping construction in Jerusalem, I expect the release of tenders for construction which are pending approval." The Prime Minister’s Office has not issued a response.
Earlier this week, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted in The Wall Street Journal saying that the Israeli government had agreed to a “quiet freeze" of construction in the settlements.
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