'Judea and Samaria construction practices must change'

MK Smotrich calls to change Judea and Samaria building permit methods saying his party must demand this immediately after holidays.

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Betzalel Smotrich,

Betzalel Smotrich
Betzalel Smotrich
Flash 90

The practicalities of building in Judea and Samaria must change, period. This is a requirement that the Jewish Home party must set as a red line at the opening of the Knesset's winter session.

I don't want to burden you with numbers and calculations - you'll get confused, and that's exactly what they're hoping for in the Prime Minister's Bureau when they inundate us with misleading numbers.

So trust me that I did the work for you and that behind the big numbers in the Prime Minister's office loom very few new housing units that can be built immediately. Something around 580 units.

All the rest is a double counting, counting existing buildings whose planning status is only now being regulated, evacuation/repopulation, and plans approved for advancement only in initial stages and will require more approvals (giving opportunity to wave around more numbers ...) before actual building takes place.

So this is the bottom line: Almost half a million residents, less than six hundred housing units for construction.

But what's worse is the total dependence on American approval for every home. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister is not telling the truth in this matter - not to the cabinet, not to his coalition colleagues, and not to the public. In stark contrast to his repeated promises and assurances, there is also an Israeli commitment not to promote construction without American approval. The Israeli team dealing with this on behalf of the Prime Minister conducts real negotiations with the Americans on every plan, with the American team going into ridiculous detail. And what the Americans do not approve of simply doesn't pass. And that's crazy when it comes to the new Trump government. The Prime Minister's agreement to this relationship is a dangerous failure. We are definitely allies of the Americans but in no way their patron state.

For example, Americans do not approve industrial zone programs. Because such zones are naturally detached (show me who builds a heavy industrial zone within a built-up residential area) and take up a lot of space (what can one do if a factory requires more than one building?). Without industrial zones, there's no employment and no livelihood. Without industrial zones, the municipality has no tax revenue, and therefore can provide less services to the resident.

Thus, for example, plans for an industrial zone in the haredi city of Betar were not approved. Haredi employment is a national interest? Not in Judea and Samaria apparently...

In addition, apart from construction in Beit El, marketing was not and will not be approved at least until the year's end. And again, here too the Prime Minister isn't telling the truth. The Prime Minister claims there's no agreement with the Americans on building quotas. In practice, there's an Israeli commitment not to approve any marketing before the end of the year. The marketing in Beit El was again excepted, with American consent, after the protest tent led by the head of Beit El's council, Shai Alon, and after the bill to fulfill the building promises that MK Yoav Kish and I submitted at the end of the previous session.

There's no marketing - including in Jerusalem!!

And there's another important point: availability of plans that can be approved is diminishing. No one wants to invest a lot of money and create programs that are unlikely to be approved for promotion.

Some of the plans were submitted and the Prime Minister and the Americans did not approve. Some of them were not submitted in advance, because the council heads preferred to submit only what was most important and urgent to them so as not to allow the Prime Minister to approve less important programs, and a large part aren't even planned because it would be a waste of money. Bottom line there is a total failure here. 580 units for construction in all of Judea and Samaria.

So what should we do? Very simple. Cancel the cabinet decision that the Planning Council will meet only once every three months, and thus begin normalcy in Judea and Samaria.

This is a cabinet decision that is mainly stupid and invites pressure. When you make every planning discussion a "once every so often event" then the whole world jumps on every house.

When the Planning Council convenes routinely every day, as in any other place in the country, and discusses all plans to be presented to it in a professional and practical manner, then at the first discussion the world will shout a bit. In the second discussion, the world will return to dealing with the issues that really bother them (North Korea, Brexit, Catalonia, etc...) And the only ones left yelling will be perhaps Yariv Oppenheimer of Peace Now. By the third meeting, also Yariv Oppenheimer will go back to deal with Meretz voter registration, and only some minor Dror Etkes will still hiccough a bit to himself and his Arab friends. That the way with those who want to build, and the Prime Minister apparently does not want to build.

But this is not his only government. We are also members in it and we also bear responsibility. This government is a good government in many ways, but when it comes to settlement it's a bad government. If the Jewish Home party doesn't want to lose its relevance to settlement it must set it as an ultimatum. We can crack this. Just as it was possible to force Netanyahu to change the cabinet's conduct. When you insist on something important, you succeed.

As mentioned, this is much more serious than a question of numbers. This is our independence and our right to Judea and Samaria.

And if not the Jewish Home then maybe the National Union. Someone has to raise this flag. A week after Sukkoth, the winter conference of the Knesset session will open; by then we will have to formulate a course of action.