It is a fact that housing prices have risen considerably in recent years, mainly in the center of Israel. There are many known causes:
First, involved bureaucracy that creates excessive red-tape in the process of preparing, approving, and planning land for construction – more so than usual in most developed countries. Those familiar with the process say that ten different governmental ministries are involved in the “obstacle course” of planning, approval and execution of construction, not including the local authorities.
In addition to this was the strategic decision of the Olmert government in the summer of 2008 not to initiate construction planning in the center of the country in order to strengthen the "periphery" (the word used in Israel for communities far from major cities and the Tel Aviv coastal plain). This was a logical decision, provided that together with the freeze on construction in the center of the country would have come an additional program strengthening the periphery with accelerated planning and construction, the establishment of industrial centers, the building of highways, and optimization of public transportation which would bring the periphery closer to the center of the country. In actuality, construction planning in the center of the country was indeed frozen, but the periphery was not strengthened sufficiently, resulting in the construction of far fewer apartments than the housing market required.
The Root Problem: More Overcrowding than Other Countries
Not only that, the crowdedness in the country is increasing above and beyond the norm, because thanks to the Torah and Jewish tradition, which places the value of raising a family on a high level, the country's population is growing at a rate faster than all Western countries. Additionally, by the grace of God, Jews continue to immigrate to Israel, and as a result, the density in the center of the country increases, prices climb, and will continue to rise.
The Solution: Widespread Construction in Western Samaria and Judea
The construction that took place in the Modi’in bloc, which in the past was very effective in moderating price increases, can be achieved many times over in the areas of western Judea and Samaria. This is the natural area of expansion for population centers and industries – from the west, to the east. Such expansion will also create a reasonable distribution of the population in the center of the country, so that rather than crowding into a long, narrow strip distancing residents living in the peripheries from the center of the country, settlement will expand in all directions simultaneously, shortening the distance between the periphery and the center. Such expansion will also reduce the security risk currently threatening millions of Jews at once.
The Fear of Presenting Such a Solution
For the same reason - fear of confronting Arab hostility, the Negev and the Galilee as well are not being properly developed, and vast State-owned lands are being abandoned to illegal construction and criminal elements.
We, the settlers, are also partly to blame. In almost every community, obstacles are placed in the way of widespread construction due to overly stringent reception committees – either out of a desire to preserve the community character and the comfort of having a private house on a half acre of land, or because of the desire to maintain housing prices.
The National Mission
This negligence, which occasionally borders on criminal offense, severely harms the fulfillment of the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz (settling the Land of Israel). Had we been more diligent in fulfilling themitzvah, we could have achieved removing the risk of further withdrawals from the State of Israel, and strengthened Israel’s Jewish identity by intensifying the connection to the holy places in which our forefathers, prophets, and kings lived.
Large-scale construction of housing in Judea and Samaria at decent prices would have freed-up money to the open market which would have been invested in education and economic development, and enabled the public to accumulate significant savings for their old-age.
Please God, we will not be punished with severe sufferings in consequence of neglecting the mitzvah of yishuv ha’aretz. Perhaps if we hasten to wake up and repent, we will merit seeyata d’shmaya (help from Heaven), and be able to compensate in the coming years for our shortcomings.