Could building near settlements help housing crisis?

‘Samaria Plan’ calls to solve housing shortage by expanding settlements near Green Line.

July 31, 2011 02:50
2 minute read.
A settlement in the Jordan Valley [illustrative]

Jordan valley settlement 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Fed up with rent prices in Tel Aviv or elsewhere to the left of the Green Line? Yehuda Pavah may have the answer for you.

The 26-year-old father of two from Ofra has launched “The Shomron Plan,” a Facebook initiative he hopes will encourage Israelis protesting in the tent cities across the land that the solution to their soaring rents and mortgages lies to the east, in the settlements of western Samaria situated near the Green Line.

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“The solution to Israel’s housing concerns – enough with the whining,” begins the description on the initiative’s Facebook page.

It continues, “Today Israel lacks 120,000 housing units. Of course we need to develop the Negev and the Galilee, but it will take a while to develop the transportation there. In the meantime, there is an immediate solution: Western Samaria. In areas like Barkan, Alfei Menashe, Kochav Yair, Beit Aryeh there is room for 75,000 apartments, 20 minutes from Tel Aviv. There are no problems of transportation or employment.

This is land in the hands of the state that will remain in Israel’s hands in any future political settlement.”

The message ends with “the solution: Immediate governmental allocation of land to young couples.”

“I live in Ofra, and I see the housing shortage here and in all of the nearby settlements.

Young families living in trailers and they need to move to real houses,” Pavah said, and added that he is certain if there is more and more building in the settlements, it will bring down the prices of housing across the country.

When asked if the plan could cause tension with the Obama administration or complicate a settlement with the Palestinians, he said, “We need to think about what’s good for us first. If we know that the housing problem will be solved by building in Samaria, we need to present this to the Americans. But first we need to think about what’s good for us.”

As for the Palestinians, “Some of their leadership may have a problem with it, but the people themselves are the ones who build the settlements, they don’t care.

A great deal of money goes to the Palestinians because of the settlements being built there, and we can bring in more Palestinian workers with more construction,” Pavah said.

“Not only is it good for them [the Palestinians], it’s very lucrative for them as well.”

A number of activists, some wearing “Kahane Lives” T-shirts, tried to present the plan at the tent city on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv on Thursday, but were met with outright dismissal and a few shouting matches.

Pavah said that so far, that has been his experience across the board with the housing protesters, but he hopes that changes sometime soon.

“The extreme left that started the protest and is leading it and only wants to bring down the government, they’re not willing or ready to hear the solution,” he said.

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