Arab city expansion plan has the right up in arms
Settlement leader decries plan to 'double Qalqilya,' despite fact that only 6,000 units to be built; Def. Min. Lieberman clarifies, 'We're talking about building on private Palestinian land inside the city'; by 2035, Qalqilya's 51,000 residents population is expected to reach 80,000.

Israel's Qalqilya building plan, which will see the construction of 6,000 new housing units in the Palestinian city,  has caused ire on the right side of the political map.



The plan—which includes a new zoo, sports fields, areas of commerce, public buildings and upscale neighborhoods—aims to accommodate the expected population growth by 2035. However, despite the fact that 14,000 housing units have been approved, in actuality the land that has been allocated for new housing can only accommodate about 6,000 units.


The city of Qalqilya
The city of Qalqilya


At present, Qalqilya is home to 51,000 people and 10,000 families. The city's natural growth rate stands at 2.8 percent a year, and as such, by 2035 Qalqilya's population is expected to reach 80,000.


Qalqilya's new zoo has been allotted 52 dunams, its new sports compounds and fields have been allotted 27 dunams, and its new industrial zones have been allotted 193 dunams. 577 dunams have been allotted for living space that comes with agricultural areas. Additional housing included in the plan have been allotted 2,100 dunams, and additional agricultural areas have been allotted 395 dunams.



The Security Cabinet approved the Qalqilya Plan in October 2016, during a meeting that did not include several right-wing ministers, such as Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Environmental Protection Ze'ev Elkin, Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information Gilad Erdan and Minister of Transportation and Intelligence Yisrael Katz.


Its approval brought on a wave of protests from the right and the settler leadership, who claimed Qalqilya's additional housing will be built on land belonging to the State of Israel.


"We're increasingly amazed by the severity of the plan to double Qalqilya in size," said Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan. "After reviewing the plan's articles, it appears each and every clause of the plan is mainly intended to pave the way to pilfering huge parts of Area C in Samaria behind everyone's backs, and in essence transfer them to the Palestinian Authority.


"Despite the fact many murderous attacks have recently come out of Qalqilya, so many appeasements have been made to Arab construction just 50 meters away from the security fence. We are united—both settlers from Samaria, kibbutz members from Eyal and residents of Kfar Saba and Kochav Yair—without political differences, in our demand that all government ministers remove this dangerous plan from the agenda."



In a reponse to the criticism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu said, "There has never been and never will be a better government for the settlement enterprise. We are moving forward with determination, systemically and wisely. I would also like to remind what happened the last time a right-wing government was attacked by the right. There is no greater mistake than such a step, and I am sure we will not repeat it."


Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who, like Netnayahu, identifies as right-wing, spoke on the matter during a meeting of his party, Yisrael Beytenu. "People have no idea what this is about. The entire city of Qalqilya is surrounded by a security fence. We're talking about building on private Palestinian land inside the city. No Israeli goes there. You have to understand: 440,000 Jews and 230,000 Palestinians live in the area, and we are responsible for the entire population in Area C.


"The maximum capacity is 14,000 housing units. Realistically, 6,187 housing units will be built. And when will they begin to be built? If I were to reasonably estimate, I would say it will be in 2030. All the shouting and mess created here is all only meant to appease those voting in the primaries of certain parties, and maybe to earn a few more points in the public's opinion, at the expense of the State of Israel."


First published: 06.19.17, 19:59
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