Israel Railways
Israel RailwaysIsrael news photo

Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz of the Likud declared this week that just one month from now, when the ten-month freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria officially expires, building will resume in a frenzy. In addition, he said, a comprehensive train network in Judea and Samaria is already being planned.

Katz made the remarks in a meeting with party loyalists in the Haifa area. Attorney activist Aviad Visoly, who heads the Likud chapter in the Haifa area, told Israel National News that Minister Katz “is among those non-defeatists who feel that we are going to remain in Judea and Samaria for a long, long time.”

Katz said that the planned rail lines will run both east-west and north-south. One route will lead from Rosh HaAyin (just east of Petah Tikva) to Ariel (central Shomron), and another will connect Latrun/Modiin with Ramallah/Beit El area. In addition, the northern Shomron area will be connected to Be’er Sheva, 150 kilometers to the south. The routes would feature connections to the existing train routes connecting the Haifa area with Ashkelon.

Planning rail tracks can take well over a decade, Visoly said, beginning with planning the basic route, checking ownership of the various tracts of land involved, and more.

This is not the first time Katz has spoken of train-route plans in Judea and Samaria. This past May, while touring the Shomron, he said that a train network could advance peace in improving transport of consumer goods and passengers, both Arab and Jewish.

In the early 20th century, Jezreel Valley Train route was built from Haifa to the Tiberias area, via Afula and Beit She'an. An extension was later added, connecting Afula with Jenin. The Valley Train was discontinued in 1951.

Freeze to End One Month From Now
Minister Katz said that despite the announcement of direct talks with the PA and the accompanying PA threats regarding continued Jewish construction, “the freeze ends on midnight of September 26, and it will not be renewed.” He said that a minute later, the heads of Judea and Samaria regional and local councils will sign “thousands” of building permits, leading to construction on a vast scale.

Judea and Samaria is officially under IDF governance, and therefore Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s approval is required for much of what occurs in these areas. Asked if Barak can hold up the construction by not granting his signature, Visoly said that anywhere there is already an approved building plan – as there is in many communities and towns in Judea and Samaria – Barak’s signature is not needed.