Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu) visited Efrat and other Jewish towns in the Gush Etzion region south of Jerusalem Friday morning, as schools around the country marked the opening of the 2017/2018 school year.
During his visit, Galant lauded Gush Etzion residents, calling the bloc ‘Jerusalem’s southern flank’ and exhorting the government to help Jewish towns there expand.
“Gush Etzion and Efrat are the southern flank of greater Jerusalem,” said Galant. “Gush Etzion was destroyed by the Jordanians during the War of Independence. [Gush Etzion] is a Zionist symbol.”
“The State of Israel has a moral and practical obligation to strengthen the Jewish community here [in Gush Etzion], and to increase a thousandfold the number of residents here compared to the number there were prior to the destruction of Gush Etzion in 1948.”
“It is imperative to secure Israel’s hold on the Jerusalem area – from Maaleh Adumim in the east to Givat Zeev in the west and an envelope stretching from north of the city to the Bethlehem area and Rachel’s Tomb [in the south], to the approaches of Gush Etzion and Efrat. It is an area with tremendous historic, strategic, and moral significance. We will continue to strengthen the Jewish settlement all over the country.”
While visiting the neighborhood of Netiv Havot, which is slated for demolition, Galant urged the government not to abandon residents.
"We must find a solution for the Netiv Ha'Avot neighborhood. One of the options is the adoption of a bill that I proposed before the eviction of Amona, but which was rejected by legal officials. We will continue to strengthen Jewish settlement in all parts of the country."
The 16 homes in Netiv Ha'avot are slated for destruction because a one-meter-wide line of questionable ownership runs through them. No one has yet proven ownership of the strip of land.
Israel's Supreme Court ordered the homes demolished in September 2016, overriding a previous decision of the state, which certified the homes as legal.
In June, the Israeli government said it was "searching for an alternative" to the destruction. Earlier this month, Jewish Home MKs said they were trying to convince the government to prevent or at least postpone the destruction of the homes.