The secret price of the Jewish Home party’s vote in the Cabinet this week for the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners was a promise from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he would unfreeze thousands of new housing units in Yehudah and Shomron, according to media reports.
Netanyahu reportedly conducted clandestine negotiations with Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) to reach the deal that overcame the strenuous objections of party members to freeing terrorists for the sake of sitting in peace talks with the Palestinians.
Sources in Jewish Home said that Netanyahu and Ariel communicated via sealed envelopes. The building plans in question are for projects mainly in Jewish blocs in Yehudah and Shomron and in Yerushalayim totaling over 4,500 units in the coming months.
Ariel’s office denied the report. “Minister Ariel constantly holds meetings, discussions, and correspondence with the Prime Minister’s Bureau to find solutions for the housing market in all parts of the Land of Israel, including Yerushalayim and Yehudah and Shomron. The minister has always demanded … that construction in Yerushalayim and Yehudah and Shomron should be allowed, and is working to this end.”
Some thought they heard a hint to this agreement in a Knesset speech this week by Jewish Home MK Ayalet Shaked, who may have been alluding to the deal when she said, “You should know that for each murderer who will be released, we will build scores of homes in Yehudah and Shomron.”