Israeli Minister Lieberman/Others to ZOA: Jewish Construction Freeze Never Ended
February 17, 2011

Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, in answer to a question from ZOA’s National President Morton A. Klein, has strongly indicated that the 10-month unilateral freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, which was to have terminated on September 24, 2010, never ended. Unbeknownst to most, a de facto freeze was also apparently in force in eastern Jerusalem and likewise remains in force to this day. Other top Israeli officials acknowledged outright that a de facto freeze continues.


After Foreign Minister Lieberman delivered a speech last night to a group of American Jewish leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem, ZOA’s Klein asked Minister Lieberman the following question: “I’ve been told by the mayors of Maale Adumim, Ariel and other Jewish communities, as well as by prominent Jewish figures in eastern Jerusalem, that virtually no new permits have been approved for the construction of Jewish homes in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem since the 10-month freeze was supposed to end in September 2010. Minister Lieberman, is this true? Is there a de facto freeze in place since the official, one-time 10-month freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria expired last September?” Minister Lieberman responded with the following words, smiling: “I’m going to answer like many politicians do – No comment, no comment, no comment. But, Morton, we’re going to change this.”


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA and other at the meeting were stunned to learn that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apparently broke his commitment to end the unilateral freeze last fall.


“That being the case, the ZOA is urging Prime Minister Netanyahu to abide by the commitment he made to end the freeze, especially in light of the fact that any extension of the discriminatory freeze on construction by Jews – and only Jews – in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem is wrong on moral, legal, historical and strategic grounds.


“Israel continues to implement a de facto freeze, without even getting credit for this extraordinary unilateral concession. This allows Mahmoud Abbas to refuse to negotiate on the false pretext that Israel is still constructing homes in the territories!


“As we have argued previously numerous times, we believe that, even if there were a sound moral or strategic reason for Israel to bar Jews, and only Jews, from building homes within the defined borders of already established communities in Judea and Samaria, the biblical, legal and historic heartland of the Jewish people, Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) has done nothing during or since the original 10-month construction freeze to justify any Israeli concession.


“We therefore urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to abide by the promise he gave on November 30, 2009, when he stated, ‘This is a one-time decision and it is temporary.  The Jews of Judea and Samaria are an integral part of our people. They donate, they serve, they volunteer, they are our brothers and sisters, so I would like to tell them as well as all citizens of Israel and our Palestinian neighbors that this decision is temporary, just as it says in the Cabinet decision and as I have personally stressed in both closed and open forums.  We will go back to building at the end of the freeze.’


“We sincerely hope that this will soon be a reality and that Jews will be able to receive permits to build schools, kindergartens, homes and additions, industrial parks etc. in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. We say to the Israeli government – allow children to build homes in the same communities as their parents. Allow nurseries and schools to be built for children that need them. End the needless privation and hardship experienced by Jews who have to find homes in other cities and townships, or who have to send their children to extremely crowded schools or schools many miles away, because neither new homes, classrooms nor kindergartens can be found for them in their own established communities.”


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