After a wait of 12 years, Rotem, a small ecological settlement in the Jordan
Valley, might finally get permission to build up to 170 homes and a guest house
Last week the Jordan Valley Regional Council was given
permission to deposit the first zoning plans for the settlement before the
Higher Planning Council of Judea and Samaria, council head David Lahiani has
told The Jerusalem Post. It followed Defense Ministry approval nine-months
earlier to begin preparing the plans.
There is now a 60-day comment
period. Once the council approves the plans, further approval will be needed
from the Defense Ministry to begin building.
Still, the ability to
deposit the plans is a significant step for the community of 30 families, most
of which have been living in modular homes, Lahiani said.
“Now they can
build permanent homes and begin to live normal lives like all other Israeli
citizens,” he told the Post.
The government first authorized Rotem in
1984, but never authorized zoning plans. Located just under six kilometers
across the pre-1967 lines, it was initially used to house an IDF Nahal unit,
which later abandoned the site. The first families moved there in
The government has noted the Jordan Valley’s security significance
and insisted that Israel maintain a military presence there in any final status
agreement with the Palestinians for a two-state solution. Nevertheless, it has
been ambiguous about the future of the area’s settlements even as it continued
to advance planning for the small, mostly agrarian communities.
said he would feel secure about the region’s future only when it is included
within Israel’s final borders.
It is the final arrangement for the area –
not the building – that will be telling, he said, adding that he would like to
see Israel annex it.
Until the region’s status is resolved, he said, it
will be important to improve life for its residents.