Defense Minister Ehud Barak is slated to green light the construction of hundreds of housing units in the West Bank settlements prior to the moratorium on settlement building being demanded by the international community. However, Yesha Council Director General Pinchas Wallerstein said to Ynet, "In actuality, the defense minister isn't authorizing even one house or one new contract, and isn't issuing one new tender."
"This won't atone for the issue of the freeze. These aren't new tenders or building permits (being issued), but the completion of permits and documents granted in the past," explained Wallerstein.
According to estimates, the housing units will be built within the large settlement blocs, and not in the small, isolated towns.
Some 170 families live in the settlement ofYitzhar. According to the settlement's spokesperson, Yigal Amitai, "There is enormous demand here. If 50 to 60 units were built here right now, they all could be sold in the coming months. Demand is high and supply is low. Only recently, we were forced to close half of the health clinic in town in order to house another family."
"Barak's announcement is a mockery, mostly of the Likud. In all the towns, there is enormous demand for additional housing units. A few hundred units barely meet the needs and demand of 2007. The time has come for Ehud Barak, with his eight mandates, to stop deriding the Likud and the entire government," continued Amitai.
It is estimated that the housing units will only be built in Har Gilo, Maaleh Adumim, Givat Zeev, or other large blocs.
Construction in Maaleh Adumim (Archive photo: AP)
Karnei Shomron also knows they will most likely be on the "building freeze list." Karnei Shomron Regional Council Chairman Herzl Ben-Ari said, "Some 7,000 people live in the town. No compromise on even one lot has come for six years. I very much hope that Barak will remember his promise to the whole family of Israeli hero, Benaya Rein, who was killed in the Second Lebanon War, to build a neighborhood in his name (with 42 units)."
Ben-Ari said that the settlement's Neve Menachem neighborhood can contain 300 housing units, adding that the infrastructure was already in place.
"Everything is ready; we just need the tender to be authorized," he said.
According to Ben-Ari, the settlement of Karnei Shomron is in need of at least 500 housing units. "Each year between 100 and 120 couples register for marriage licenses, but not one lot has been zoned for construction," he claimed.
Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shaul Goldstein said the settlements under his authority were in need of some 2,000 housing units. "This is a disgrace. The Israeli government is in power due to 65 mandates from the Right; it must remain loyal to its platform and allow construction in all of the West Bank. I am certain that this is not an obstacle to peace," he said.
Meanwhile, the municipality of Maaleh Adumim and Israel Police reached an agreement Sunday regarding a ceremony inaugurating a new residential neighborhood in E1, an area referring to a sprawl of land connecting Jerusalem to Maaleh Adumim.
Some 3,000 housing units are expected to be built in "Mevaseret Adumim." According to the ceremony's organizers, Benny Begin (Likud), Yisrael Katz (Likud) and Eli Yishai (Shas) are among the ministers who are expected to attend the ceremony.