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Thanks to Yesha Building Freeze: 52 Families "Left Behind" in US

Intended or not, the government's unofficial construction freeze in Judea and Samaria is having a negative impact on aliyah.
By David Lev
First Publish: 8/25/2011, 1:51 PM

Efrat
Efrat
Flash 90

Intended or not, the government's unofficial construction freeze in Judea and Samaria (as opposed to the “official” freeze that ended last year) is having a negative impact on aliyah; 52 families who had planned to settle in Efrat are remaining in the United States, at least for now, because there is no place for them to live.

While the building freeze has hurt many communities in Yesha, it has been especially hard on English-speaking communities, such as Efrat, Karnei Shomron, and others. While Israeli families have the option of moving to a wide variety of communities, immigrants from English-speaking countries usually find that they need the support of a community that “speaks their language” in order to have a successful aliyah experience. That limits their choices of places to live in Israel significantly. Although there is plenty of space for new housing in Judea and Samaria, the fact that there has been no new significant building there for several years means that housing options in English-speaking Judea and Samaria communities are very limited.

Some 60 families from the U.S. had signed up with Nefesh B'Nefesh and other groups to make aliyah to Efrat this summer. This week eight of the families arrived in Efrat, where they are living in apartments and houses. But the other 52 have delayed their aliyah plans, preferring to stay in the U.S. for now, because there are simply no homes for them right now in Efrat.

Efrat Local Authority head Oded Ravivi told Arutz Sheva that despite efforts, there was little he or the local authority could do. “The families that did make aliyah also rented or paid high prices for their homes, since there was so much competition for them, and several families that already live here may end up leaving because of the inflation. There are a number of areas in Efrat that are ready for construction, but the government permits have not been forwarded to us.

“Despite the fact that the population of Efrat has grown significantly in the last decade, not one new lot has been offered for sale here in that time,” said Ravivi. “Thus we have a situation where families who want to buy a house in Judea and Samaria now have to pay NIS 3 million (over $800,000) for a house.”

Ravivi said that Efrat was celebrating the arrival of the eight new families, “but we cannot ignore the 52 families who were unable to join us because of the housing crisis. There families are prepared to leave their homes, their jobs, friends, families and communities to live in a strange land,” Ravivi added. At least we can let them live in a place where the population will remind them of home.”