Israeli housing minister: Coalition may destabilize over settlement ‘building freeze’


(JTA) — Israel’s housing minister said the government coalition may become destabilized over what he described as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reluctance to approve construction in settlements.

Uri Ariel of the rightist Jewish Home party issued his warning Sunday during the dedication of a new synagogue in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, Army Radio reported.

“I am telling the prime minister and asking him: Do not test us and do not shame us, lest the situation of this government and this coalition become destabilized because of the building freeze. Start building,” said Ariel, whose party is the coalition’s third largest member with a tenth of the Israeli parliament’s 120 seats.

Ariel’s statement of a freeze is believed to be a reference to delays in the granting of permits by the Ministry of Defense for building in the West Bank. No new plans have been approved in the past six months, Army Radio reported, and no significant tender for construction in the West Bank has been published.

Construction is being carried out in territory under the jurisdiction of the city of Jerusalem, which Israel regards as its own territory and not a part of the West Bank.

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