Building houses in Judea and Samaria should be an a priori goal of the Jewish State. It should not take terror attacks that left three Israelis murdered including two IDF soldiers and one premature baby, along with another nine injured, to kick-start building that should be happening in any case.
The world sees the Israeli government “punishing” the terrorists and their sponsors with the announcement of new building permits for “West Bank settlements”. This frames Jewish growth in Judea and Samaria as punitive rather than based on what we consider to be a national priority to develop land. This negates our historic connection to the land going back to Biblical times, as well as the fact that we liberated Judea and Samaria in a war that was forced upon us. We do not need the waves of terror to justify more building; such building should be happening on a constant, unimpeded basis because the right to build is the right of a sovereign state in its land.
Our basic right to build has been dangled in front of us like an unattainable carrot by several Israeli and US administrations’ freezing settlement building as part of a concession and good will measure showing we were serious about peace. But where did that get us? Certainly not to a successful peace deal. Even for those who are willing to sue for peace, it should be obvious that the time has arrived to give up on the old idea that our Arab neighbors will put down the sword for the ploughshare if we stymie building plans in Judea and Samaria.
What the building freeze has created, however, is a housing crisis in which many towns in Judea and Samaria have serious shortages of properties for sale and rent. In Maale Adumim, for example, a city of over 40,000 people, there have been very few permits for new building over the past ten years. As a result of the lack of affordable housing there, the city is not able to keep up with its natural growth, forcing children to move away from their parents, creating an aging city instead of one with a diverse age range.
The time has come for our government to ensure the basic human right of building expansion in Judea and Samaria regardless of the designs of our enemies. Only by recognizing this sovereign right will we stand by our principles of supporting these Jewish communities’ natural growth and enable them to blossom, and not just when they are bleeding and mourning their dead.
Doron Spielman is Vice President of the City of David