Yesha Council: No room for young couples
Council heads present data stating there are only 400 available apartments in West Bank settlements for some 2,100 couples wishing to set up home near parents. Chairman Danny Dayan says hundreds of youths 'quietly expelled' in 2008, urges Prime Minister Netanyahu not to make any concessions in Washington
At a time when the world continues to urge Israel to halt settlement construction, settlers argue that there are not enough housing units for young couples wishing to remain in the West Bank.
The heads of the Yesha Council held a press conference Monday morning at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington next week.
Data presented by the heads showed that in 2008, over 2,100 young couples registered for marriage, with hopes of setting up their new home in the West Bank, where they were born and raised.
However, the council heads claim that the number of available housing units in the area, including apartments, houses and caravans, stood at only 400.
Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council, said at the press conference: "The prime minister is traveling to Washington to meet with Barack Obama.
"This is not a random event, but a move that has been synchronized from home and from the outside, in which they are trying to bring the prime minister to accept the poisoned concept of a Palestinian state, clearly against the will of the majority in the State of Israel."
Dayan added, "They are using the 'good, the bad and the ugly' tactic. The good are those that hint to Netanyahu that if he agrees to a Palestinian state he will go down in history and maybe even win a Nobel Prize.
"The bad are those that use blatant threats, some of the top officials in the American administration. And the ugly, are the envoy of Israeli bodies that act as the American government's cheerleading squad to twist Israel's arm."
Dayan called the current situation "quiet expulsion", and said: "This year, the quiet expulsion of many hundreds, or even more, from Judea and Samaria was carried out.
"I am talking about youths that were born and raised in Judea and Samaria and would like to build their homes near their parents' homes. Because of the construction-freezing policies, they are unable to do so and are expelled from their homes."
'Only one in five can stay'
The Yesha Council head also said that distorted facts about construction in the territories were being presented to the world. He mentioned the number of newlyweds in the West Bank this year and the number of housing units he said were available.
"Only one out of five couples can stay and the rest will be expelled. This is an intolerable situation. Even President Shimon Peres likened the situation to banning childbirth. Unfortunately, no change has been made in the government's settlement policy.
"The Olmert-Ramon's suffocation policy has not changed. The policy must change and go back, at the very least, to what Prime Minister Netanyahu promised on the eve of the elections. Netanyahu cannot make any concessions in his meeting with Obama," Dayan said.
Dayan, Wallerstein at press conference (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Pinchas Wallerstein, Director-General of the Yesha Council added on the housing situation in the territories, "If I take Ariel and Ma'ale Adumim out of all the communities, there are 20 apartments that haven't been sold and 76 caravans. It won't be so by the end of the summer.
"What we are telling the political echelon, is that when everything is forbidden, everything is permitted. We urged all council heads to do whatever they can to absorb residents in a massive way."
Meirav Gold, a community coordinator in the settlement of Ofra, spoke of the housing situation in her community: "Today, over 100 families are waiting for an apartment in Ofra. There is not a single apartment available, the distress is real. We have no answer for parents who came and settled legally in Israel whose children have nowhere to live today."
Hadas Ben-Ari of the Karnei Shomron settlement, got married about six months ago, and would like to live in the West Bank: "We are forced to wander in a one-bedroom apartment in central Israel; we don't have a permanent place. Why can't we live in Samaria beside our parents? Let them hear our cry."