Right-wing Minister: Conditions for Palestinians at Checkpoints Are 'Disgrace and Shame' on Israel

Uri Ariel also said he urged Netanyahu to work to better the Palestinian economic conditions: 'Let Gaza have a seaport.. give them gas and desalinated water.'

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Uri Ariel
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Uri Ariel.Credit: Moti Milrod
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) voiced rare criticism at what he called the dismal state of checkpoints in the West Bank, saying the manner Palestinians were forced to stand waiting for hours "without shade or water" was "a disgrace and shame on Israel and the defense establishment."

Speaking Friday with Tel Aviv Radio, the right-wing Ariel said he told Prime Minister Netanyahu that a change should be made to West Bank checkpoints to make them more humane. "You should see how [Palestinian laborers] stand waiting to enter Israel. People stand there in sub-par conditions, in the summer in the heat, in the winter in the rain. What prevents us from fixing this? What, 50 million shekel is our issue?"

Ariel continued, describing the dire conditions at the checkpoints, saying Palestinian laborers arrive at the checkpoint at 3AM to cross into Israel by 7AM, waiting for hours "without water." When asked how Netanyahu responded to the claims, Ariel said: "He didn't."

Ariel also suggested to Netanyahu that Israel take unilateral steps to improve the economic situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He said he sees no problem with permitting the construction of a seaport for Gaza or transferring gas and desalinated water to the West Bank."

"Build the port in Gaza. Everything under 100 percent security, there is a way to do so, I know," he said in reference to his suggestion to Netanyahu, adding: "Why are you [Netanyahu] taking the other side and saying 'we'll consider it.' What is there to consider? We are considering for 47 years and they have no international port why shouldn't they have a port?"

"We should transfer gas to Nablus, to Tul Karm, to Jenin. We have gas. Unilaterally. Without his famous condition of 'If they give – they'll receive.' We are responsible for the area. Give them water," Ariel said later in the interview.

When asked about incitement by fellow right wingers against Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon over his condemnation of the shooting of a wounded Palestinian assailant in Hebron, he said "everything happening in regards to the defense minister is complete anarchy. In my humble opinion this is a matter for a police investigation."

Asked if he thought the defense minister could face physical harm as a result of the incitement he said: "Yes, it can get to that."

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