Interior Ministry committee recommends creating new city in Samaria region
Decision effectively means construction on land between Etz Efraim, Sha'arei Tikva, Oranit and Elkana—thus far prohibited mostly due to political considerations—will be made possible; the new city will be the first since Ariel's founding, 20 years ago; Finance Ministry to invest NIS 100 million in creating the city.
A special committee appointed by the Interior Ministry's director general recommended Wednesday to bring together several settlements in the Samaria region of the West Bank to create a new city.
The city-to-be will be comprised of settlements Etz Efraim, Sha'arei Tikva, Oranit and Elkana. The decision effectively means construction on the land between each of the four settlements—thus far prohibited mostly due to political considerations—will be made possible.
The committee's recommendations were forwarded to the heads of the four local authorities upon publication.
The Finance Ministry was expected to invest more than NIS 100 million in the unification, the committee evaluated, in allow the new city to grow an at accelerated pace. Despite the expenditure, the committee also noted unification would actually save the state vast amounts of money, since the four authorities—populated by some 22,000 people—have thus far been forced to maintain four different service systems, while they could have been reduced to a single system.
"In light of the fact the authorities financial prowess is not significant, which means they need to dip into the state's budget to be able to administer their duties, this committee is of the opinion that reducing and unifying roles will better maximize governmental budgets at this juncture," the committee said.
The unification move was first brought up several years ago, and was stalled in different committees each time. If the plan was to go through, it would be considered a landmark decision as no Samaria cities have been declared since Ariel, 20 years ago.
'Only five minutes from Highway 6'
Creating the new city will allow to promote construction in the adjacent region. The committee mentioned in that respect unification will "allow planning and development to go through on the Sha'ar HaShomron area in a quicker and more efficient manner. The new city will carry great significance, close as it is to the Green Line and still only five minutes away from Highway 6."
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely commented on the decision, saying, "Unifying the four Samaria settlements and creating a new city is the correct, appropriate decision and constitutes a clear, meaningful statement to the world: the settlement grows and strengthens."
"It also signifies an enormous budgetary investment in Samaria by the Finance Ministry, while also being a cost-saving measure for the state and strengthening Judea and Samaria. Every additional city in Judea and Samaria is an important increase in strength. (Interior) Minister Aryeh Deri is worthy of every praise for this important move," she said.
Welfare Minister Haim Katz also commented. "I'm pleased Interior Minister Deri took this undertaking upon himself. There's immense importance to creating a new city in the Samaria in this point in time. It's a momentous, important occasion for the State of Israel and all of Jewish settlement," he said.