Yisrael Beiteinu party head Avigdor Lieberman hinted on Monday that he would be willing to join the coalition if the government agreed to the construction of 2,000 housing units in the city of Ma’ale Adumim east of Yerushalayim.
Lieberman’s comments came during a meeting of the Knesset Lobby for the Land of Israel attended by a number of senior political figures including Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
“Almost half of the city voted for Likud due to Netanyahu’s speech in which he promised to double the population of the city after the elections. I visited the community after the elections and, unlike others, said that if Netanyahu approves the construction of 1,000 units, I would join the coalition without preconditions. But today the price has been raised to 2,000 units,” Lieberman told those in attendance.
Lieberman went on to describe Netanyahu as a leader who is strong on television but weak in reality and suggested that Likud members of Knesset make their vote for the prime minister’s budget conditional on further construction in Ma’ale Adumim.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat also denounced the government’s policy in Judea and Samaria and demanded further construction of residential buildings.
“When Israel is asked to ‘freeze the construction’ in Jerusalem and its metropolis, in Ma’ale Adumim, or anywhere else; what construction are they trying to prevent? Only Jewish construction?” said Barkat during the meeting. “Would anyone in the U.S. or in Britain even consider demanding a construction freeze for Jews or Arabs only?” he asked.
“Construction in Ma’ale Adumim is necessary in the near future to enable economic development for residents of the Jerusalem metropolis and for the needed connection between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim,” added Barkat. “In Jerusalem, construction is approved in all parts of the city, to Jews and Arabs, without discrimination. This needs to become possible for our neighboring town, too.”
By Alexander J. Apfel/TPS – The Tazpit News Agency