Israel’s housing minister on Thursday called on the government to lift an unofficial construction freeze in the West Bank in retaliation for Wednesday’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem, in which three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun was killed.
“We’re working to remove the [construction] freeze that exists in this settlement and in the rest of the West Bank settlements and in Jerusalem,” Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel, of the right-wing Jewish Home party, said at a ceremony marking the building of a synagogue in the settlement of Nokdim, near Bethlehem.
There is no official construction freeze in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, and the Jerusalem municipality last month approved construction of some 2,500 homes for Jews and Arabs in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood.
“I call, together with other members of the government, on the prime minister to remove this terrible word [‘freeze’] from the agenda and return to construction,” Ariel said.
Ariel added that increased construction in Jewish settlements was a fitting response to the Wednesday terror attack in Jerusalem that killed an infant and injured eight.
“We need to build not as a response to the murder, but because there’s a need to build in the land of Israel at all times,” he declared, but then added, “and when there’s terror we build more.”
While construction is ongoing in major West Bank settlement blocs that Israel believes will remain under its sovereignty as part of any final status agreement with the Palestinians, Ariel has voiced frustration recently over a quiet slowdown of construction in isolated Jewish settlements in the West Bank.