Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) declared on Sunday that “there are thousands of apartments ready for sale in Judea and Samaria, and they will be marketed,” adding that this was “only the beginning.”
Ariel spoke at a cornerstone-laying ceremony for a new Jewish neighborhood at the edge of the Palestinian village of Jabal Mukkaber in East Jerusalem. The neighborhood, planned to include some 63 housing units, will be constructed in the area between the village and Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, closer to the Palestinian village. Bemuna company is building the neighborhood, which will be marketed to the religious-Zionist public. Company owners have recently claimed that the permits for the neighborhood were stalled due to political pressure. A week ago, the final permits were issued and the construction is due to begin in the next few days.
The ceremony took place only hours after the ministry announced that it plans to issue tenders for the construction of more than 1,000 housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Also present at the ceremony were Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Knesset Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky and prominent religious Zionist Rabbi Shlomo Aviner.
“With God’s help we will continue building all the land of Israel and Jerusalem the capital,” Ariel said. “It must be made clear that this is only the beginning. This melody can’t be stopped. … Do not be too impressed by the voices in the coalition. I can tell you that every single one of the leaders of Yesh Atid support construction in Jerusalem. … We can and will market thousands of apartments in Jerusalem and there are more than 10,000 apartments ready for marketing in Judea and Samaria. You should all follow, encourage and pressure us to do so as soon as possible.”
Said Barkat: “I hear complaints from people who have certain hardships with construction for Jews in certain neighborhoods, but we won’t discriminate against anybody, and certainly won’t discriminate against Jews anywhere in Jerusalem.” The mayor said the city issues building permits to all local groups, including Palestinians.
Several demonstrators who arrived to protest the construction were cleared from the area of the ceremony. Among these was Deputy Mayor Yosef ‘Pepe’ Alalu (Meretz), who said, “I feel sorry for Barkat and Ariel, they build 63 homes and invite journalists. That shows weakness.” Alalu also challenged Barkat’s claim about issuing building permits to the city’s Palestinians, saying Palestinians seeking to build homes are stymied by bureaucracy.