Israel is capable of constructing 10,000 new homes in the settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem with the aim of reducing house prices, the Minister of Housing Uri Ariel said according to media reports on Thursday.
“We have the ability to immediately launch the construction of 10,000 houses in [east] Jerusalem and in the settlement blocs of Judea-Samaria [the West Bank],” the minister said during a meeting of the Finance Committee.
The minister notably mentioned three settlements, Beit Arieh, Ofarim and Elkana, situated according to him “in the center of the country,” in which the construction projects could be launched, the press has reported.
According to Uri Ariel, of The Jewish Home, a nationalist party in favor of settlement, these buildings in the West Bank and East Jerusalem could make it possible to “immediately curb the price of housing.”
Interviewed on Thursday on public radio, Ariel returned to the need to build in the settlements, situated according to him “in the center of the country”, as well as in Maale Adoumin, an important settlement in the West Bank close to Jerusalem. “There is no housing to sell or to rent in these localities as well as in the Tel Aviv area, because the prices have not stopped rising,” the minister said.
The minister had said on June 18 that a freeze of planning applications for new houses in the settlements of the West Bank and East Jerusalem was in force again since the beginning of the year.
He alluded to a partial freeze of 10 months in 2010 of the construction of housing in the West Bank.
But the current freeze of applications does not concern projects in the process of authorization or the construction of housing in the existing settlements.
Media outlets and an Israeli NGO had guessed that the Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had suspended the launch of housing applications in the settlements in order to give the efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a chance.
The Palestinian Authority demands a total freeze of settlement and a reference to the borders from before the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories in June 1967 as a basis for discussion before it will resume peace negotiations. The PA has also asked for the release of Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel.
Israel wants to resume the negotiations without any preconditions.