Plans to build 73,300 new homes in Jewish areas of Judea and Samaria are waiting for the new government’s approval, Peace Now warns. Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), a candidate for the post of Housing Minister in the new Netanyahu government, says he hopes to be the one to give the approval.
Of the 73,000 apartments, nearly 9,000 are already built but await final approval; 6,200 have had their plans finalized, and the remainder – over 58,000 – are still in the planning stage.
The Housing Ministry also has plans for another 260,000 units elsewhere in the country.
Gush Etzion, Adam, Ariel, and More
Approximately 19,000 units are planned for Yesha towns currently located outside the anti-terrorism partition wall – Adam/Geva Binyamin north of Jerusalem, Kiryat Arba, Karnei Shomron, Ariel, Emanuel, and Revavah.
Some 3,000 apartments are set to be constructed in Area E-1, to the east of Jerusalem in the direction of Maaleh Adumim. Another 17,000 are set to be built in the Gush Etzion bloc, south of Jerusalem.
Six outposts, or settlement start-ups, are included in the Housing Ministry lists: Magen Dan outside Elkanah, Dagan and Tamar outside Efrat, Givah 26 near Kiryat Arba, West Bat Ayin in Gush Etzion, and Bnei Adam, east of Adam.
“If these plans are actualized,” Peace Now chief Yariv Oppenheimer frets, “the number of Jews in the territories will double.” There are currently nearly 290,000 Jews in Judea and Samaria; an addition of 73,000 units, with four people per unit – a low estimate, given the many religious and hareidi families in Yesha – means the doubling of the population. Not all the units are to be built at once, however, under any circumstances.
Some towns in Yesha are slated to be greatly expanded, including Givat Ze’ev north of Jerusalem, Ariel, Beitar Illit, Maaleh Adumim, Efrat and Adam.
Ketzaleh: We Doubled Before, We'll Double Again
Ketzaleh hopes to be Housing Minister in the new government, having had experience in the area. He served as a top aide to Ariel Sharon when the latter was Housing Minister in the early 1990’s. “We doubled the amount of housing units in Yesha then, and we can do it again,” he said today.
Ketzaleh issued a call to support the national-religious public: “Population growth in Judea and Samaria is nearly 6% a year, and almost all of this sector serves in the army. The government must therefore approve building for this sector, and encourage growth for these large families, so that they can grow and develop even further. We must not allow ourselves to be deterred by United States policies.”
Peace Now: Danger to Palestinian State
Peace Now's Oppenheimer warns that if the new plans are approved, it is likely to thwart forever the idea of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria.
Army Radio ran Oppenheimer’s response as its top story repeatedly throughout the morning, arousing the opposition of right-wing Army Radio commentator Kobi Arieli. He said that the opinions of the decimated Meretz Party – which largely represents Peace Now philosophy – need not be considered a top news item, nor should the fact that a duly-elected right-wing government plans to build in Judea and Samaria come as a great shock to anyone.