Sources: Israel Imposes Building Freeze on Yehudah and Shomron Due to American Pressure

YERUSHALAYIM -
General view of construction in the Shomron community of Ariel. (Flash90)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has apparently slowed the approval process for construction projects in Yehudah and Shomron because of American pressure, Yisrael Hayom reported.

According to the report, Bennett has refused to let the Civil Administration Zoning Committee schedule a routine meeting for the approval of construction plans.

This has gone on for over a month, the sources said. The sources, which are affiliated with the Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron, alleged that this amounts to a de facto construction moratorium because no new plans can go forward without the committee’s go-ahead. “This is tantamount to complete capitulation to U.S. dictates,” the sources claimed.

The committee, which is under the auspices of the Defense Ministry and is tasked with overseeing construction beyond the Green Line, normally reviews new construction plans every three months, including various infrastructure projects.

These plans are essential for the overall development of the communities, as they pertain to access roads as well as big projects.

The previous government, under then-Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, was supposed to set a date for a meeting of the committee, but Defense Minister Benny Gantz prevented it from doing so, insisting only the new government should do so.

Though Bennett has been in power for over a month, no date has been set, this time due to American pressure. This means a freeze on construction, since as long as the Council does not convene, new plans cannot be approved.

The head of the Land of Israel Lobby in the Knesset MK Yoav Kish and MK Orit Struck stated that the failure to convene the Supreme Planning Council was “a de facto freeze on settlement in Yehudah and Shomron,” and the lobby “expects the government not to submit to the dictates of the U.S. administration and to order the Planning Council to convene immediately and approve the plans.”

Bennett, “who as CEO of the Yesha Council waged a determined struggle against the freeze, is expected to follow the principles he himself set and make clear to the Americans that building in Yehudah and Shomron is a basic right and duty that Israel cannot give up,” they said.

MK Keti Shitrit, a member of the lobby, stated that “Bennett promised that the Israeli settlement would not be harmed [under his government], but as with all his promises this too did not come true.”

“We are witnessing the subservience and weakness of Naftali Bennett, who was the former director-general of the Yesha Council and promised to act for the settlement and the continuation of construction” in Yehudah and Shomron, she said.

Arab construction in the area continues uninterrupted and without permits, while Bennett, under American pressure, freezes Israeli construction, she charged, saying it was “discrimination.”

In response to the report, Bennett’s office claimed that “there is no American pressure. The Council has not convened since Joe Biden took office as President of the United States.”