Netanyahu won't anger US on settlements

Dror Marmor

For Housing Minister Uri Ariel, the current housing shortage supersedes attempts to reach peace with the Palestinians and the Americans.

In central Israel, environmental organizations are preventing more bites to be taken out of open spaces. Israelis grit their teeth and go to northern or southern Israel, and justifiably demand transport, health, and education infrastructures, which cost the government billions, to do so. If this is the case, Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel says that there is no choice but to again revive housing projects in Judea and Samaria.

For Ariel, the equation is simple: the current housing shortage supersedes attempts to reach peace with the Palestinians and the Americans. But absurdly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lacks the courage or the power to relieve demand pressure in the settlement blocks that Ariel is referring to.

In 2006, when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "betrayed" the settlers and handed Gaza and a few settlements in Samaria over to the Palestinians, the Israel Land Administration sold land zoned for 6,119 housing units in Judea and Samaria, more than a third of the number of 22,794 apartments marketed that year nationwide. In 2012, when Netanyahu was in power, the government marketed land in Judea and Samaria for 986 housing units, 6.5% of the total number of units marketed nationwide.

In the capital Jerusalem, where most of the available land is beyond the Green Line, the government marketed land zoned for 2,059 apartments (13% of the nationwide total), compared with land zoned for 4,235 apartments in 2006 (19% of the nationwide total).

It is deeply ironic that, again and again, we discover that a strong right-wing government lacks a mandate for the massive marketing of land in Judea and Samaria or in east Jerusalem. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin built interchanges and highways to "compensate" the settlers for the Oslo Accords; Ariel Sharon marketed a record amount of land for housing to "compensate" the settlers for the disengagement from Gaza. But Netanyahu? He demands from the settlers and Jerusalemites minimum construction to avoid angering the Americans.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 10, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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