05 February 2012

Good to Know Who Your Friends Are

From Arutz Sheva: Investigation Shows Which Ministers Stood Up for Yesha Residents

Eligible residents of cities and local authorities can receive up to NIS 75,000 in a development grant at low, government-subsidized interest rates for the purchase of a home, while residents of kibbutzim, moshavim, small towns and Arab villages can receive up to NIS 150,000 in subsidized loans.

Originally, some 70 towns in Judea and Samaria – including Kiryat Arba, Efrat, Ariel, Beit El, Beitar Ilit, and many others - had been included in the list, but after criticism by leftist groups, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanayahu conducted a telephone poll of ministers, seeking their permission to amend the government decision. As a result, residents will only be able to get the benefits if “political officials” sign off on the requests. The most likely candidate for that job is Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whom Judea and Samaria residents have long accused of doing everything possible to slow Jewish population growth in Judea and Samaria, with his consistent refusal to allow for construction of new homes, building permits, etc.

Arutz Sheva sought to find out which ministers decided in the telephone poll that residents of Judea and Samaria did not deserve the benefits.

According to the information discovered, the following ministers told Netanyahu in the phone poll that the benefits should apply to Judea and Samaria residents: Gideon Sa'ar, Limor Livnat, Gilad Erdan, Daniel Hershkowitz, Silvan Shalom, Avigdor Lieberman, Stas Mesheznekov, Yitzchak Aharonovich, Sofa Landver, and Uzi Landau. The first four are Likud members and the latter five are from Yisrael Beiteinu, while Hershkowitz is from the Bayit Yehudi party.

Those who voted to deny Judea and Samaria residents the housing benefits included*****all members of Shas in the government – Eli Yishai, Ariel Atias, Ya'akov Margi, and Meshlam Nahari – as well as *****Ehud Barak and other current and former Labor ministers.*****

Likud minister Yossi Peled said he had not been asked his opinion. Yisrael Katz, Yuval Steinitz, Benny Begin, Ya'akov Ne'eman, and Moshe Kachlon did not respond to Arutz Sheva's request for information on how they voted. Minister Yuli Edelstein abstained.

Sa'ar, who voted against removing the benefits, called on Netanyahu to conduct an open vote on such an important issue.

Speaking Saturday night, Hershkowitz said that “with all due respect to the U.S., Israel is not the 51st star on the American flag. It is the right of an independent country to set up its own preference zones without outside interference.”

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