Motti Kugel is working towards making his dream of a new city, moments away from Jerusalem, a reality – despite a jungle of bureaucratic red tape.
Kugel, a land developer who has been involved in reclaiming land in Judea and Samaria for 20 years, told Arutz Sheva, "the only obstacle to starting construction on this land lies in the technical and bureaucratic process necessary to complete the process of formal land-transfer."
"We've had a long, complicated and complex journey due to the fact that the land was acquired from Arabs," Kugel said. "Now all that remains is to complete transfer, which is stuck in the bureaucracy of the security services. It sounds ridiculous, but this is the reality."
"The land was legally acquired by us from a private owner and is now our private property,” Kugel said of the 1,600 dunams (400 acres) he wants to develop – which can accommodate some 10,000 housing units.“With a little will from the requisite ministries we could break ground on construction tomorrow.
"But because of the technical procedures of the security forces, we have been stuck for years and years. No one is driving the bureacracy and the wheels are spinning. This project is stuck while the public housing crisis only worsens,” he said.
Residents in Judea and Samaria have long reported obstruction by Israel's defense ministry in obtaining permits for construction, especially under Amir Peretz (Labor) and Ehud Barak (Independence).
Kugel says he's ready to start building at a moment’s notice, "There are detailed and clear plans for building thousands of housing units on this land. We have paid huge sums to prepare a plan and gain approval for the construction of an expressway to connect the development to the main roadways, but it stuck."
Kugel points out that the process of transferring land ownership in Judea and Samaria is not new and is well established – and has been approved by the High Court.
"If lawmakers in the Knesset were working to push the bureaucrats to get moving and helping to complete the process of transferring the land, we could make a city just minutes from Jerusalem,” Kugel says.
“It sounds like a dream, but it can be reality," he added.