Although the government's decision to release 104 security prisoners ahead of the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians was resentfully accepted by Habayit Hayehudi, behind the party's decision to stay in the coalition, despite bitter objections by its members, is an agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel. Hebrew daily "Ma'ariv" reports that, under the agreement, Israel will unfreeze building plans for thousands of housing units in Judea and Samaria in exchange for keeping Habayit Hayehudi in the coalition.
According to "Ma'ariv", top sources in Habayit Hayehudi said that Netanyahu and Ariel had a secret dialogue through sealed envelopes. In this dialogue, they agreed to unfreeze building plans for projects, mainly in settlement blocs and in Jerusalem, in exchange for the decision to release the Palestinian terrorists getting through the coalition and the government.
"Ma'ariv" reports that plans for the construction of 1,000 housing units will be approved soon, and plans for an additional 3,500-4,500 housing units will be approved in the coming months. Sources in Habayit Hayehudi said that party chairman Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett was involved in the contacts, and calmed party members, saying that he doubted that the new talks with the Palestinians would lead to a diplomatic agreement, so there was no point in threatening to quit the government.
Ariel's bureau told "Ma'ariv" in response, "Minister Ariel constantly holds meetings, discussions, and correspondence with the Prime Minister's Bureau to find solutions for the housing market in all parts of the Land of Israel, including Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria. The minister has always demanded, since taking up his post, that construction in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria should be allowed, and is working to this end."
A hint at this agreement can be seen in the speech by MK Ayalet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) from the Knesset podium on Monday, when she turned to the Palestinians and said, "I see your celebrations in Ramallah. Take them (the prisoners who will be released). That is what you look like. This is our partner.
"You should know that for each murderer who will be released we will build scores of homes in Judea and Samaria," Shaked said. "That is how it has worked since the dawn of Zionism: we build and they kill. Each of us does what he knows how to do."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 31, 2013
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013