As rumors of a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria on the negotiating table swirl through the media, Arutz Sheva caught up with Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) Tuesday to discuss the long-term effects of the last withdrawal: the housing crisis for residents of Gush Katif.
Ariel was approached by the State Comptroller's Office recently to help find solutions for the displaced families of the Disengagement in 2005, many of whom have still have not been provided with suitable housing.
A plan along these lines was submitted to a ministerial committee about a month ago. The current plan, according to the minister, is to move displaced families out of temporary housing into upgraded transitional housing until permanent homes can be built. He noted that about 170 families face unique problems finding permanent housing - and that each family needs to be catered to as a unit.
"We have a breakdown of the issues facing each family," Ariel stated. "We are aware of the problems each family faces and we are taking them into consideration."
"We are basically moving each of these families into a home tailor-made specifically for them," he stressed. "There are different centralized plans we are taking [to solve the housing problem] and within that [framework], each family will receive individualized treatment so we can help them to move into a permanent home."
Ariel also provided a response to Monday's news that building in Judea and Samaria had increased by over 123% between 2012 and 2013.
"This is proof that there is no way there will be a Palestinian state west of the Jordan river," Ariel declared.
"We need to build more throughout Israel," he continued, "in the Galilee, in the Negev, and in Judea and Samaria. This is part of the solution to the housing crisis [in general] which is in itself a difficult problem. As the Prime Minister said on the Knesset plenum, we will continue to build in Judea and Samaria and to see housing prices stabilize in 2014 and to begin dropping by 2015."
Ariel concluded with an expression of caution about the US framework for the negotiations, especially as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meets with US President Barack Obama. Obama is reportedly pressuring Netanyahu to make a withdrawal.
"We will hear more details [about the terms] when the Prime Minister and his entourage return to Israel early next week," Ariel mused. "For now, it seems like there's no revolutionary change, but we have to play close attention to detail."
"For now, it seems that Netanyahu is standing up for basic rights which we have to demand from them," he continued. "I wish him the best of luck and hope that he continues to do so."