For first time in the history of the settlement movement, the Tourism Ministry has made monetary grants available for the construction of hotels in Area C of the West Bank.
In the past, such grants could be received only with governmental approval. But grants worth 20%-33% of the project’s cost were available for the construction of hotels within sovereign Israel.
Hotel projects in Judea and Samaria could not receive the grants because the law that provided for their distribution was not applicable to the West Bank.
The ministry has now created a different mechanism exclusively for Judea and Samaria that will allow for automatic application for the grants without the need for special governmental approval, the spokesman for Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Tourists who want to stay overnight in West Bank settlements currently rely on private homeowners to rent out rooms through Internet services like AirBnb or with small bed and breakfasts.
The construction of hotels is needed to allow for increased tourism to the area.
Efrat Council head Oded Revivi, who is also the YESHA Council foreign envoy, welcomed the move, which he said would allow for increased tourism to the heart of biblical Israel.
Tourists are Israel’s best global ambassadors in the promotion of Zionism and in the struggle against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Revivi said.
“[Tourists] will see how there are good neighborly relations between Jews and Arabs,” he said.
“Unlike what has been told to them, they will see that there is not war here every day and that there is no apartheid,” Revivi said.
Settler leaders also said that they saw it as one more step forward toward the annexation of West Bank settlements, a move that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to make once he forms a new government.
Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman said that, “it’s the right step at the right time. It’s one more step toward the application of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.”
South Hebron Hills Regional Council head Yohai Damri said that tourism is already rising in his region, and then thanked Levin for his support of that growth.
“I call on the government of Israel to take the additional step of applying full sovereignty to Judea and Samaria,” Damri said. “By so doing, it would transform the region into an integral part of the State of Israel.”