At a recent Knesset Finance Committee hearing addressing the housing crisis in Israel and possible solutions a prescient question was posed by Committee Chairman Nissan Slomiansky. He inquired of Housing Minister Uri Ariel why there appeared to be no construction in Jerusalem. Ariel replied that Slomiansky needed to direct his question to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. To quote him directly, Housing Minister Ariel had responded, “Why is there no building in Jerusalem? I suggest you ask the Prime Minister.” What a novel and, may I add, brilliant idea. Truth be told, the questions addressing the very obvious lack of building in Jerusalem as well as Judea and Samaria have been popping up ever since President Obama visited Israel introducing Secretary of State Kerry and his peace process revival. Perhaps the Prime Minister should take on the denial of the existence of a silent, unannounced, stealth building freeze by having a groundbreaking for new housing and may we suggest this event take place deep into Samaria, say somewhere like Itamar. Such a serious and in your face dedication to Israel’s righteous right to build on lands guaranteed as indivisible in countless agreements through modern history would set the argument going forward that Israel will declare and implement their proper and legal sovereignty over all the lands.
The reasons why many might suspect that there is a building freeze being applied but just not announced are obvious. Secretary of State Kerry has been quoted expressing how such actions would be a helpful contribution by Israel to his efforts to jumpstart the lifeless peace negotiations. If it should eventually come out that Prime Minister Netanyahu has imposed a building freeze to please Secretary Kerry and President Obama, such news would not bode well for other possibilities in the near future. Secretary Kerry and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have been heard also agreeing that it would be preferable for Israel to release some of the Palestinians they are holding in prisons on various charges. From the apparent attitude shown by Secretary Kerry, both past and presently, it would not be too much of a reach to believe that he intends to convince Abbas to drop his preconditions for returning to the peace negotiations due to Kerry guaranteeing compliance by Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu to many of these demands voluntarily. Such an eventuality is something that the members of the ruling coalition and the entire Knesset should force from the shadows and into the light of public review. This would allow for public input and hopefully push the Prime Minister to truly represent the Israeli people and not the machinations of President Obama and Secretary Kerry who are more receptive to Mahmoud Abbas than they are to the rights and safety of the Israeli people.
Should it prove out that there are such backroom dealings being carried out by the Prime Minister’s office, it should be revealed to the public as Israel is supposed to be a representative government and not the private playground for any political group or government cabal. The people are the real makers of policy and the government is not empowered to make backroom deals which counter the will of the majority. One would hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu has not decided that he alone should be the arbiter of Israeli policy free from the input or even informing of the Knesset or even his Cabinet. The idea of democratic governance is that no one person is an island and that the government represents the will of the people. So, the time has come for the media, the people, and the Knesset as the representatives of the people to call out the Prime Minister and demand the truth be revealed. Prime Minister Netanyahu must be made to actually permit actual building of new homes and apartments in Judea, Samaria and most importantly in Jerusalem or reveal the deceptive freeze that is feared. Should the freeze be validated by the Prime Minister it will be up to his coalition partners to take the correct measures and be faithful to those who placed them in power even if it becomes necessary to force new elections. The government must represent the people and not the designs of a powerful few who have their own policies.
Beyond the Cusp