Netanyahu and Smotrich
Netanyahu and SmotrichSpokesperson

The Likud and Religious Zionist parties have agreed on changing the mechanism that approves construction in Judea and Samaria so that the Prime Minister's involvement in it will be dramatically reduced, and control of it will essentially pass to Bezalel Smotrich, Kan 11 News reported on Friday.

For over 25 years now, any construction in Judea and Samaria has had to receive the approval of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense at least four times and sometimes even more. Due to the political sensitivity of such construction, each step in the process needs to be separately approved. This is the main reason why construction plans in Judea and Samaria can be delayed for years, as the political echelon can postpone them again and again.

However, according to Friday’s report, the Likud and Religious Zionist parties have now agreed to change this mechanism. Netanyahu, as Prime Minister, will only approve the first phase of construction, known as “planning approval”, which includes approval of location and the number of housing units.

In cases of urban construction (for example in the cities of Ariel, Modi'in Illit, Beitar Illit and Ma'ale Adumim), Netanyahu will also approve the final stage, known as "marketing approval". This means that the approval of all the steps along the way goes de facto into the hands of Smotrich.

The purpose of the change, according to the Kan 11 News report, is to "normalize" construction approvals in Judea and Samaria and bring the situation in those areas closer to the situation in Israel, within the limits of the Green Line, where the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense are not required to approve every step of every construction plan.

The issue itself is vaguely worded in the coalition agreements, but the goal is ultimately to anchor it in a government decision, the report said.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)