E1 Building Plan Roils Coalition

Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) seen on right. He’s going ahead with E1. (Flash90)
Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) seen on right. He’s going ahead with E1. (Flash90)

Movement MK Meir Sheetrit blasted the E1 plan. (Flash90)

One of the first ripples of disharmony in Israel’s new government appeared on Wednesday as a senior MK in Tzipi Livni’s Movement party denounced plans to build homes in the E1 corridor between Yerushalayim and Maalei Adumim, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The comment was touched off by Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel’s announcement that he intends to follow through on development in E1.

“We will fulfill our right and our obligation to build here,” Ariel said at a Jewish Home gathering on Tuesday. “In another year and a half, apartments will be built in E1.”

Movement chairman Meir Sheetrit, himself a former Construction and Housing Minister, said he and his party would do everything in their power to block the E1 project. He advised Ariel to build in the uncontroversial Negev and Galil instead.

“Building in E1 would be a big mistake,” Sheetrit said. “He cannot get away with such an unnecessary provocation.”

Coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud-Beiteinu) backed Ariel, saying that the government was already committed to building the proposed Mevaseret Adumim neighborhood in E1.

“We will build in E1, as Likud-Beiteinu has promised,” Levin said. Reminding Sheetrit of the political realities, he added, “Movement is an important component in the coalition, but they have to remember that they have only six seats.”

Movement MK Meir Sheetrit blasted the E1 plan. (Flash90)
Movement MK Meir Sheetrit blasted the E1 plan. (Flash90)

At the same time, Levin downplayed reports of possible changes in the month-old government as a result of ongoing tensions between Netanyahu and his main partners, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett.

Regarding speculation that Shas might soon be brought into the coalition, Levin replied that “Yes, we want to add Shas to the coalition as soon as possible, and Labor as well.”

Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich rebuffed Netanyahu’s repeated overtures to her party during coalition talks, insisting they were much too far apart on socioeconomic policy.

The chareidi parties were effectively boycotted from joining the coalition.

In any case, Shas leader Eli Yishai indicated no great eagerness for the coalition, at least at this stage.

“It’s too soon,” Yishai said. “Being in the opposition is healthy. We need a year there to recover and get stronger.”

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