Report: Gov’t Plan Could See Yehudah and Shomron Population Increase by Hundreds of Thousands

General view of the comunity of Ariel. (Flash90)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s new government is poised to take a series of steps that could result in a massive increase in the population of Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron over the coming years, Yisrael Hayom reported Wednesday.

During a recent meeting between Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and settler leaders, some of the components of the plans were revealed. If finalized, they would come on top of the pledges already written into the coalition agreements that were signed between the Likud and its allies in the Knesset.

The plan’s components include convening the Higher Planning Council in Yehudah and Shomron as soon as possible and approving some 18,000 new housing units in the coming months. The plan also calls for having the council meet regularly every month rather than once every three months under previous Netanyahu governments and only twice during the past year under the premiership of Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid.

Another measure would create a separate entity that would approve construction that is not for residential living, such as daycare centers and industrial complexes. This mini-planning council would meet every several weeks to approve construction plans.

If these proposals get finalized and pass the relevant hurdles, they could increase the number of settlers in the coming years by hundreds of thousands and streamline the approval process for such construction so that only two entities would have to sign off on civilian construction rather than five. As a result of cutting this red tape, the plan would also dramatically shorten the time it takes from the planning phase to the full construction of housing units.

Netanyahu, Gallant and Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich met to finalize this process earlier this week, as part of the implementation of the agreement that stipulates moving some functions from the Defense Ministry to Smotrich’s portfolio, as he is also defined as a minister within the Defense Ministry. If carried out as planned, Jewish settlers would essentially have the same experience dealing with government agencies as other Israelis, as they would no longer have to go through the filter of the Defense Ministry.

The officials also discussed changing the metrics for how infrastructure projects are measured. Rather than use the prism of the Jewish residents – which currently stands at some 500,000 in Yehudah and Shomron – projects would take into account the overall number of residents in the affected areas, essentially adding millions of non-Israelis to the official head count beyond the Green Line for planning purposes ahead of their construction, such as in the case of paving roads. This could create a political backlash, with some on the left potentially calling this mini-annexation.

To Read The Full Story

Are you already a subscriber?
Click to log in!