MK Solomon: Solution to Housing Crisis Is Right Under Our Noses

MK Moshe Solomon. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

​The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s Subcommittee for Yehudah and Shomron, chaired by MK Moshe Solomon (Religious Zionism), convened on Tuesday to discuss the current state of construction in the Yehudah and Shomron settlements. Chairman MK Solomon said at the start of the meeting that construction in Yehudah and Shomron should be taken for granted, as in every place in the State of Israel.

“We’re in the midst of a housing crisis. The solution is probably right under our nose. I hope we will be able to assist in resolving the crisis by encouraging construction in this region, which is located near Yerushalayim and central Israel. There is a need for construction in Yehudah and Shomron and for easing barriers. As a national Government, we want to advance construction in Yehudah and Shomron,” said Solomon.

Adv. Moshe Frucht, deputy legal counsel to the defense establishment, explained about the legal aspect of the lands in Yehudah and Shomron, saying that one-third of the lands were regulated. He said that in professional terms, it was advisable to renew the procedure of the land registration arrangement in Yehudah and Shomron. Frucht clarified that the arrangement was unrelated to the question of applying Israeli law and was not based on Israeli law, but rather on the law that applies in the region.

“Without a [land] arrangement procedure, we will find it difficult to provide a response to the difficulties. Everyone understands that there are also political ramifications,” he said.

Ministry of Defense official Ohad Heizler said, “The District Committee in Yehudah and Shomron ostensibly functions like any other district committee, but it is greatly under-budgeted. Today, there is no real National Master Plan for Yehudah and Shomron. This can also be seen on the Israel Planning Administration website, where such plans can’t be found.”

Ministry of Construction and Housing official Dov Moscovitch said, “The Ministry of Construction and Housing comes into the picture when we’re talking about regulated land. We are the central agency that plans in Yehudah and Shomron. Approval of the plans is done through the Higher Planning Council. We also require political approval. As soon as the plans are approved, the marketing is launched through societies and developers.”

MK Limor Sonn Har Melech (Otzma Yehudit) said, “My point of departure with regard to this entire discussion is that Jews have a right to settle in our ancestral homeland. We have heard all the barriers and all the red tape — there is a substantive trend that stands behind this conduct, and I’m very glad to hear that there’s a desire to change it. In the end, the way this issue is managed is a product of our political views. The people of Israel should know that there is zero enforcement regarding the spread and takeover of our ancestral lands by the Arab villages. For all intents and purposes, they are setting policy on the ground for us.”

MK Gilad Kariv (Labor) said, “It is our ancestral homeland, and we should have an emotional connection to all the parts of Eretz Israel. We are faced with a very complex task of finding the balances between our natural and historical rights and the need to have a recognized state and to recognize the rights of additional people who share the land with us. Our desire to have a Jewish and democratic state may require us to part from some of the regions, so that we will be able to uphold in other parts of our ancestral homeland a sovereign and democratic Jewish existence.”

MK Ze’ev Elkin (National Unity Party) said, “In order to hold this debate in a serious manner, we should see the numbers laid out over the years. The process in Yehudah and Shomron should reach a valid approval issued by the councils. Marketing a plan also requires political approval. In addition, when a resident of Yehudah and Shomron buys an apartment there — in practice, he has no rights to the land. The trend of demanding that the land be part of the initial transaction is right.”

Gideon Margalit, chairman of the Efrat Lands Committee, said, “Offenses are committed flagrantly, in broad daylight. If I want to buy a house near Solomon’s Pools — that is forbidden because it’s an agricultural area, and also because I’m forbidden to buy in this part of Area A or Area B. What is taking place is a creeping takeover. A total of 200,000 dunams have been stolen from us by people who have decided that this is what they are doing. We’re law-abiding citizens and we live in peace and love. The land issue is the essence of the State of Israel.”

Chairman MK Solomon summed up: “The Government should set policy. I would like to hold a follow-up debate on the issue and to summon the representatives of the Civil Administration. Accordingly, the subcommittee is requesting orderly data from the Settlement Administration and the Ministry of Construction and Housing on the number of positions, approval of plans and average length of time from planning to marketing. I am also requesting the position of the Defense Ministry’s legal counsel with regard to applying the Planning and Building Law in Yehudah and Shomron.”

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