Construction in Gush Etzion
Construction in Gush EtzionFlash90

For years, Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria have struggled under a de facto building freeze.

Construction in these towns has been heavily restricted, with only limited numbers of permits offered; many of which are given to retroactively recognize existing homes.

For years the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria has grown rapidly – far faster than inside the Green Line. According to the 2016 “Katzaleh Report” published in February, the number of Jews living beyond the Green Line grew by 4.6% in 2015, rising to more than 406,000.

As the building freeze wears on, however, and the number of available homes shrinks, some fear the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria will quickly begin to stagnate.

But one Samaria councilman is optimistic about the situation, and has offered a simple solution, one which he believes could be enacted by the present government.

Efi Sharon, chairman of the Towns Committee of the Binyamin Regional Council, spoke with Arutz Sheva about his modest proposal. Sharon emphasized that despite the apparent bleakness of the situation it was important to continue moving forward.

“Especially now, when we hear about home demolitions against Jews even as [the government] is afraid to destroy the homes of terrorists we need to change our approach – and build upward.”

“It’s not a new idea. We’re familiar with it, and when we can, we prefer to build [smaller, single family units] on the ground.”

As Sharon points, however, today that simply is not possible.

“I call upon community leaders, regional councils, and the settlement movement. This is a historic opportunity. When they freeze us – we’ll build upwards.”

Sharon added that this opportunity would not last long, urging town leaders to take advantage of it before it was too late.

Rather than building small villages with single family homes or duplexes, Sharon argued that towns in Judea and Samaria need to think big – and build big.

“Everybody knows that on the same space used for four [single family] homes we could build apartment buildings for 120 people.”

His solution, Sharon noted, would also help reduce the cost of housing, which has risen dramatically across Israel.

The one catch, he pointed out, was that his plan would require the government’s approval to alter the zoning of communities from villages to urban areas. But Sharon was confident that the present coalition would be receptive, though future governments may not.