Defense Ministry touts better security for settlers, more W. Bank homes

The program is aimed at improving the quality of life and increasing security in Jewish settlements in the West Bank

January 4, 2018 19:30
2 minute read.
A general view of houses in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank

A general view of houses in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has approved plans for construction of housing units throughout the West Bank just days after concept for settlement security was presented to the heads of communities there.

Liberman instructed the Supreme Planning Council for Judea and Samaria to approve the plans as part of the country’s “policy of strengthening settlements” in the West Bank, a Defense Ministry statement said.

On Tuesday, a meeting requested by Liberman and chaired by Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan was held in which the ambitious NIS 18 b. Keshet Yonatan program was presented.

The meeting was attended by Maj.-Gen. Roni Numa, head of IDF Central Command; Kobi Eliraz, the defense minister’s aide for settlements; Yesha Council chairman Hananel Dorni; and council leaders from Judea and Samaria.

Numa emphasized the IDF’s commitment to securing the safety of West Bank residents in presenting the plan. He said the program was aimed at improving the quality of life and increasing security in light of many challenges – especially terrorism – through the use of advanced infrastructure and technology.

“This is the first time that the Defense Ministry has presented a comprehensive approach to improving the quality of life in the West Bank,” Dahan said. He added that the plan “was prepared by the defense minister and reflects the position of all the relevant security forces”.

Yesha Council leaders were also updated on the progress of bypass roads being built in the West Bank, and others throughout the area that are expected to improve the quality of life and safety of those who drive on them.

Liberman and Dahan received thanks for their plan, with one council leader calling it a “refreshing and vital change for the region.”

Others in attendance voiced appreciation for IDF soldiers, saying their efforts allow settlers to continue living in their communities.

“This is a very big leap in the capabilities of the defense establishment,” said Dorni, who added that the plan “will strengthen the sense of security of our residents.

I am happy about the program, and now the government needs to prioritize budgeting for the important projects presented to us.”

Israel has invested billions of shekels in the construction of an extensive road system in the West Bank since 1967. Bypass roads are designed to enable access to settlements, and between such areas, without having to pass through Palestinian villages.

But bypass roads have also been criticized by Palestinians and their supporters as being a major obstacle to the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state, since settlement construction tends to increase after such roads are built.

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