by Hezki Ezra
Land of Israel Lobby holds special Knesset meeting on building freeze in Ma'ale Adumim. All agree that Bibi must allow building.
Land of Israel Lobby meeting today
Tourism Minister MK Yariv Levin (Likud) told the attendees, "There's no doubt that it's time to renew the building in Ma'ale Adumim. There is a clear consensus on this. We will not be satisfied, of course, with only building there, and we are calling to build there and in communities across the country."
He added that "I took part in many previous government efforts to create this consensus, and I am happy that now those who opposed my early attempts are joining us. I call on everyone to join, and to come together in order to build and settle throughout the country."
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also took part in the meeting. "The question is - when they ask us 'to freeze the construction' in Jerusalem and the surrounding metropolitan, in Ma'ale Adumim or in any other part of the country - what construction are they asking to freeze? Only the construction for Jews? Only for Arabs? Would someone in the US or in England even consider demanding a freeze only for Arabs? Or only for Jews? In Jerusalem the local council and the regional council for planning and building approve construction across the city, for Jews and Arabs together, without discrimination. This is how it needs to be for our neighbors in Ma'aleh Adumim.
"In addition to the urban renewal in Jerusalem, building in the E-1 section is a needed policy for the near future in order to allow regional economic development for the residents of Jerusalem and the entire metropolitan and for the necessary connection between Ma'ale Adumim and Jerusalem," said Barkat.
Welfare Minister Haim Katz (Likud): "The existence of this conference shows how much we are in need. We must build up the entire Land of Israel, in Ma'ale Adumim and in Judea and in Samaria and without limiting the diligent citizens who were sent to build up the land from building. We should not be ashamed. We don't need to prove anything to anyone. I am not only talking about Ma'ale Adumim but about Judea, Binyamin and everywhere."
Deputy Housing Minister Jackie Levy (Likud) said that there is a wall-to-wall agreement on Ma'ale Adumim. "When all factions are united, we must come up with an overall consensus for the Prime Minister and say that Ma'ale Adumim is a city that needs as much building and strengthening as possible. When our opinion is strong and united, even the world will understand that we are fulfilling our strong right to build in the State of Israel."
Even the opposition parties stood up in support of Ma'ale Adumim, though with some reservations. Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid said, "If I were Prime Minister, within three weeks we could close a deal that says an official freeze outside of the blocs - in exchange for building within the blocs, in Gush Etzion, Ma'ale Adumim, Ariel."
Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman used the opportunity to criticize the Prime Minister. "I am ready to join the government if Netanyahu approves of 1,000 housing units. Today the price is already at 2,000. If he allows 2,000 housing units in Ma'ale Adumim, I will join the coalition without any preconditions. But there is no chance; Netanyahu won't grant even one housing unit.
"Bibi is strong on television and weak in reality. Strong in words and phrases and empty in actions, and this freeze in Ma'ale Adumim is the direct result of it. There's also no building in Pisgat Ze'ev and in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem - zero building," he added.
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