Har Gilo
Har GiloGush Etzion Regional Council

Israel green-lighted Wednesday over 2,000 new housing units for Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, ending an eight-month de facto freeze on approval for new homes.

The Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Committee approved on Wednesday 2,166 new housing units in Judea and Samaria, with the committee expected to meet again Thursday to approve close to 3,000 additional housing units, for a total of roughly 5,000 units.

This is the first time since February that the Higher Planning Committee approved new housing units in Judea and Samaria.

While the committee was scheduled to meet in May, the meeting was repeatedly delayed, then cancelled, with no explanation given.

In August, settler leaders from the Yesha Council accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of imposing a de facto building freeze in Judea and Samaria.

“For more than half a year not a single housing unit has been approved in the area, and we haven’t been given a final date for the convening of the committee. We now find ourselves in the midst of a construction freeze in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley.”

“It is unacceptable that we have to wait half a year for building permits, and we demand that the Prime Minister convene the committee immediately. The Prime Minister suspended sovereignty, so we need to move to creating facts on the ground and building freely, without political approval and limitations which aren’t required elsewhere in Israel.”

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin claimed at the time that the Likud had blocked new construction in Judea and Samaria in the hope that taking this step would persuade the Americans to permit Israel to apply sovereignty to Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley.

Last month, however, Defense Minister Benny Gantz authorized the Higher Planning Committee to convene to grant approval for roughly 5,000 housing units in Judea and Samaria.

The left-wing Peace Now organization issued a statement Wednesday condemning the new housing projects.

"Netanyahu is moving ahead at full steam toward solidifying the de facto annexation of the West Bank.”

The Gush Etzion Regional Council, however, celebrated the Higher Planning Committee’s decision, noting that some 1,100 new units were approved in the Gush Etzion area south of Jerusalem.

“Around 1,100 housing units approved as part of construction plans for Pnei Kedem, Kfar Eldad, Metzad, and Har Gilo,” the Council said in a statement.

Shlomo Ne’eman, the head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council lauded the decision Wednesday.

"The mission of developing the communities in Judea and Samaria continues to be one of the key issues for the State of Israel and the entire nation in this era, and we are grateful for the right to be at the forefront here in Gush Etzion.”

“Sometimes we take our Prime Minister to task, which we feel is justified, as a result of our disappointment in postponing the application of sovereignty over our country. But now something tangible is happening – we are building and developing our communities, and of course the highlight of today is the full registration in the Land Authority of the young community of Pnei Kedem, 20 years since it was established. Sovereignty isn’t just about legal documents as important as they may be."

"Sovereignty is about more and more Jews who establish their homes in the land of their ancestors for now and forever. And for that, a big thank you and congratulations are due to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who despite being busy with his intense involvement in current issues, is also advancing strategic plans to strengthen our hold on Judea and Samaria.”