Leaders of Judea and Samaria are warning of a "silent, de facto building freeze."I'm looking for confirmation and more analysis of what is--and is not--going on.
Naftali Bennet, director-general of the Yesha Council, has reported that "The cities of Judea and Samaria are effectively frozen. The government has promised to stop the freeze, yet it is continuing it."
There are 4,321 planned units that relevant government ministries have not officially sanctioned. Two of the biggest cities -- Ma'aleh Adumim and Beitar Illit -- are almost out of permits for building. In fact, building will soon stop in 14 of the 19 largest communities of Judea and Samaria unless the Defense Ministry authorizes more construction and the Housing and Construction Ministry issues more tenders. In nine communities all that is required is the political OK, as all technical arrangements are in place.
The Yesha leaders say that the media have been so focused on the few hundred building starts that have gone ahead that no one is paying attention to the fact that things may come to a dead stop soon. They aim to change this with their "Save the Cities" campaign, which is pushing for building permits to be issued.
So what is going on? Wish I could tell you. This sort of "silent" freeze, which is not total in any event, is not sufficient to allow Abbas to climb down from his tree and sit at the table. Nor can Obama get many points for this before the election, because it's so much under the table, so unofficial.
Who is satisfied by this? What goals are achieved and by whom?
I suspect that in looking at Abbas or Obama for clues may, we may, in fact, be looking too far afield. As I've noted, what is required are permits from the Ministry of Defense, which is headed by our "good friend" Ehud Barak. Surely, we see his heavy-handed approach here. Barak often takes steps like this to mollify his Labor party, so that he can retain the position of party leader, and so that the party doesn't pull out of the coalition, thereby costing him his ministry.
The whole story? Probably note. But I do not discount this. Nor do I discount Barak's eagerness to be good buddies with Obama.
The bottom line, however, is that the buck truly does stop with the prime minister. If Netanyahu weren't signing off on this somehow, or turning a willfully blind eye, this would not be happening. And so we must also ask what he has agreed to, what comes next, and what his intentions truly are.
Anyone have any sources?
Technorati Tag: Israeli Settlements.