Infrastructure Minister Landau: Arabs are the occupiers
MKs on both left and right slam new West Bank construction; MK Pines-Paz: Barak has become Netanyahu's contractor.
National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau on Monday lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan for a partial construction freeze in the West Bank, deeming the Palestinians "occupiers" and declaring any bounds on settlements a "violation of human rights."
Right-wing lawmakers on Monday joined the crowds celebrating the establishment of a new neighborhood in the E-1 corridor connecting Jerusalem to its settlement suburbs. The ceremony was also attended by Supreme Court Judge Eliyakim Rubinstein and Information Minister Yuli Edelstein.
The ceremony at Mevaseret Adumim, near Ma'aleh Adumim, was held amid a stir of controversy over Netanyahu's plan. Further furor has risen on both the left and the right over Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to approve construction of 455 new homes in existing settlement blocs prior to any freeze.
Landau, a member of Netanyahu's Likud party, took the opportunity to condemn the prime minister's plan and demand that construction continue at all costs. "This land is ours and ours alone," he said.
"It is the Arabs who are occupiers," Landau added. "A settlement freeze is a violation of human rights. What can we tell the families? Don't have any more kids, don't build another house, you can't have a playground here. This construction must not stop under any circumstances."
During the ceremony, police dispersed a crowd of activists from the anti-settlement group Peace Now who had come to protest the event.
Knesset Speaker: Drying up settlements won't build Tel Aviv
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Monday also joined the growing line of pooliticians on both the left and right, who have jumped to criticize the government's changing policy on settlements.
Most Likud ministers backed Netanyahu's plan for a partial freeze of settlement construction as he presented it to the Sunday cabinet meeting, but some of his party's most influential members have condemned it as foolhardy.
"Whoever believes that Jerusalem rose from the destruction of Hebron has learned nothing," the Knesset speaker told mourners gathered in the Jewish section of that West Bank city on Monday to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the 1929 riots there.
"Whoever believes that by drying out Ariel and Ma'aleh Adumim we can build on to Tel Aviv and the like, or who actually believes that the demise of settlements on the mountain ridge will bring us the recognition we seek for out territorial rights, will just stumble like so many others," he said.
"Whoever believes that in this manner we will rescue ourselves from imminent disaster is living in false hope," he said.
MK Pines-Paz: Barak has become Netanyahu's contractor
Barak's decision to approve building permits for 455 housing units in settlement blocs in the West Bank prior to any freeze has garnered a slew of criticism of its own.
MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) slammed Barak, the head of his party, saying he "has become Netanyahu's contractor."
"We warned that Barak would be Netanyahu's contractor, and sure enough, today he approved [the building of] hundreds of units in the settlements," Pines-Paz said, adding "not only does Barak not evacuate outposts, he is the enactor of right-wing policy."
"In one decade, Barak has gone from Peace Now and Camp David to build now in the settlements," Pines-Paz added.
MK Nahman Shai (Kadima) accused the government of "trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the public with this ridiculous decision."
MK Majali Wahabi (Kadima) issued a harsh rebuke of Barak and the Labor party, saying that Barak's decision "is further proof that the Labor party has no right to exist as an independent party, and that the most prudent step for the party is to join the Likud."
Criticism was also leveled at Barak from the right, with the head of the Yesha Settler Council Danny Dayan saying "the meaning of Barak's decision is that in 150 settlements they will not build a single house. The construction was approved only in places that suited the Labor party's platform."
Head of the National Religious Party, Yaakov Katz, said that he is working with settlement officials to organize a sit-in to be held in front of the prime minister's bureau in Jerusalem, to protest "the crime of freezing the life of Judea and Samaria."