Agriculture Minister MK Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) called on entrepreneurs in Judea and Samaria not to be discouraged by the demolition of several buildings in Beit El last month, noting that progress has been made to rebuild.
"We have not forgotten the eviction in Beit El, and have already started construction work on 300 housing units in the community," Ariel said of the coalition government in a special interview with Arutz Sheva on Friday. Ariel noted that he sat down and discussed the issue with the head of the Samaria Regional Council Thursday, and that building should also be advancing in the Galilee and the Negev.
"It's important to start now and plan," he said. "In the meantime, until you get to the Supreme Planning Council, every community is allowed to design buildings and begin planning."
"The problem comes when you get to the regional committee level, then Peace Now […] submits reports and makes a mess," he noted, referring to the slow bureaucratic process and attempts by extreme leftist organizations to stop construction. "But the submission of building plans now should cut the process by a year or two."
The cornerstone for the 300 homes was laid on July 30, after the destruction of the Draynoff housing units in Beit El, which involved an unprecedented number of police officers descending on the Samaria town and clashing with its residents. Several reports of police brutality at the scene surfaced before, and during, the demolition.
The 300 units approved had been promised by the Israeli government three years ago after the relocation of the Ulpana houses in Beit El, but Netanyahu publicly denied intending to fulfill that promise. Netanyahu's renewed assurance to build the structures is widely seen as direct compensation for the Draynoff saga.
Ariel has been a vocal opponent of a quiet de facto building freeze in Judea and Samaria, as well as in Jerusalem, even though that freeze has been ongoing for the last two years, including during his time as Housing Minister in the last coalition.
“Today there is no building in Jerusalem, and no planning for building either," he stated two weeks ago. "The Prime Minister promised that homes would be sold in Jerusalem, but this is not happening."
"This is against all the agreements we have with the government and against the spirit of Judaism," he added at the time. "We are in the midst of deciding about how to proceed."