Summary: The Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration will convene this week, and is expected to approve around 4,000 housing units, 2,000 less than planned. They are fuming in Judea and Samaria. Gush Etzion Regional Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman: “Mr. Prime Minister, at the upcoming planning meeting you intend to approve more houses for Arabs than for Jews in Gush Etzion. This is defeatist, a display of weakness, and is shameful on a national level.”
The Higher Planning Council, the body which approves construction in Judea and Samaria is slated to convene this week, after not meeting for many months, and is expected to approve 4,000 housing units – around 2,000 less than were slated for approval. Those units were dropped from the agenda due to American pressure – and the upcoming visit to Israel of President Joe Biden. However, at the same time PA Arabs are also seeking construction approvals in Area C, areas which are under full Israeli control (in contrast to Area A – under full PA control, and Area B under Arab civilian control).
After months of a silent (or de-facto) building freeze, it became known to leaders of Judea and Samaria that not only does the Israeli government receive marching orders from the White House, but it is linking Jewish construction to Arab construction. The leaders of Judea and Samaria are beside themselves. Gush Etzion Regional Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman said: “We are shocked by the continuation of a terrible, anti-Zionist, and morally corrupt system run by the Bennett-Gantz-Lapid government, which is busy legalizing Arab construction carried out by those infiltrating onto state lands in area C, while connecting that construction to approvals for Jewish housing in Judea and Samaria as if the nation of Israel doesn’t have the right or independence to build in our country.”
Another reason for the anger and frustration among the residents of Judea and Samaria over this decision, also stems from its timing: at the height of a wave of Arab terror during the month of Ramadan, in which 19 Israelis were murdered at the hands of Arab terrorists. “If a Jews receives approval to build in his country, therefore an occupying Arab should also receive benefits?” asked Ne’eman rhetorically. “This is happening especially now, when our Arab enemies deserve nothing for their cruel acts of terror carried out against our brothers. Such a trend is inconceivable. The Nation of Israel and its leaders must understand that approving Arab building in Area C is really a green light for the Arab population in Areas A and B to encroach on lands in Area C. This is something that even Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was against under the terrible Oslo Accords.” In his remarks Ne’eman addressed Prime Minister Bennett directly saying: “Mr. Prime Minister, at the upcoming planning meeting you intend to approve more houses for Arabs than for Jews in Gush Etzion. This is defeatist, a display of weakness, and is shameful on a national level.”
The fact that the rate of housing unit approvals in Judea and Samaria is lower than the rate of natural demand, is making it impossible for grown children to live near their parents. This also puts a strain on the acute national housing crisis. This adds to a shortage in housing units for young couples in Judea and Samaria who are not given permission to build their homes. “These housing units are paid for with our money, no one is giving us presents,” said Ne’eman angrily. “But the government is standing by with a calculator: an additional unit or a unit less in Nokdim or in Kfar Tapuach, and we have to fight, literally fight for every square meter. While the country is choking under the housing crisis, in Judea and Samaria, the situation is several times worse. The Israeli government today is operating according to Joe Biden’s travel schedule as if he were the prime minister of Israel. We demand from the government of Israel that it act as the sole ruling body here and with a sense of responsibility, and that it stop acting subservient causing a national embarrassment. Let us live in our country, build it, and be happy in it. We did not come to ask for favors. We are building it alone, and we are strong. We returned to Gush Etzion, Judea and Samaria to Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount. Just bless our path along the way!”