Ma'aleh Levona overlooks Luban in W. Bank 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Around 70 West Bank settlements were on the list of communities eligible for
housing and development grants that the cabinet approved on Sunday.
of them – 57 – are settlements located outside the boundary of the security
barrier’s planned route.
Israel has promised the international community
that it would not provide special incentives for settlement development and
Still, the settlements were included in the list of 557
“national priority” communities published by the Prime Minister’s Office on
An official who was in the cabinet meeting clarified that
additional government approval was needed before the incentives could be granted
to West Bank settlements.
“It won’t happen automatically,” the official
It was difficult to change the list for political reasons, the
official said. “But it is clear that we are aware of the sensitivities when
discussing communities over the Green Line,” the official added.
was created based on need, the official said. But its application in the West
Bank will be in line with Israel’s diplomatic agenda, the official
Still, in its notice to the press, the Prime Minister’s Office did
not mention limitations to the housing incentives, which include money for
development costs of up to NIS 150,000 for agricultural communities and NIS
107,000 for cities. Supplementary housing loans of NIS 100,000 are also
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, “The decision is designed to encourage
positive migration to the communities and to assist in finding solutions to ease
the housing situation. The decision will also contribute to economically
strengthening these communities.”
The approval of the incentives comes as
Palestinians are considering pulling out preliminary talks with Israel, which
were held this month in Amman.
Although the government has not been
willing to outline the borders of a twostate solution, it is widely understood
that Israel would likely give up some of the isolated settlements that are now
on the national priority list.
Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said the
continued presence of settlements on the list was proof that the government was
still financially supporting settlements. She was particularly concerned that so
many communities on the list were outside the planned route of the security
Many of these places have permits to build that they have not
utilized, she said.
These kind of grants will help these settlements
Peace Now in the past year has said that it noticed a trend of
increased building in smaller settlements.
Jordan Valley Council head
David Lahiani was thrilled to see that his communities were included in the
“It will help the Jordan Valley in a dramatic way,” he said.
Already, he said, he is preparing to build 150 new homes.
Valley has been among the divisive issues between Israelis and
Israel has insisted that it must retain a military presence
there, but its public statements with regard to the continued presence of
settlements have been vague.
Lahiani said he has learned not to expect a
“certificate of security” with respect to the valley’s future.
said, when it comes to actions on the ground, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu’s government has been supportive of the Jordan Valley.
government since that of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin has done as much
for the Jordan Valley, Lahiani said.
Separately, at the Likud ministerial
meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said that he hoped that former Supreme Court
justice Edmund Levy would head the outpost committee that he hoped to finally
form this week.
The committee is expected to examine land status issues
in the West Bank.