The basic error is to treat all the settlements alike.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
An Interior Ministry committee has recommended the creation of a settler city in the Samaria region of the West Bank.
It would be the fifth such city in Judea and Samaria. The last one, Modi’in Illit, was created in 1996.
Right-wing politicians immediately welcomed the plan, which is expected to be approved by Interior Minister Arye Deri (Shas).
“I am very happy about the recommendation to establish a new city in Samaria,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said, adding that it was a “symbol” of the continuity of the settlements in Judea and Samaria.
Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin said, “The importance of this step cannot be overestimated.”
Under the plan, the Interior Ministry would unite four settlements under one municipality, whose total population is 20,383, according to 2016 data from the Central Bureau of Statistics.
This includes Etz Ephraim, Sha’arei Tikva, Oranit and Elkana.
The Finance Ministry is expected to invest NIS 120,000 million in the plan, which would allow for increased building within the new municipal area.
Veteran settler leader Benny Katzover, who was the first Samaria Regional Council head, said: “When we first built the Shomron, our dream was to create large cities so that Samaria would become the center of the country.”
Today, he said, he is seeing that dream become a reality.
The plan would allow building on land that was put on hold because of internal disputes that date back to his time in office, Katzover said.
“This is a defining and exciting moment,” he said.
Plans to create a fifth settler city follow the government’s decision this year to build the first entirely new settlement in more than 20 years. The new community, Amihai, is located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.
Plans for the new city are part of an overall push by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to increase settler construction in the West Bank.
It comes in the midst of a renewed push by US President Donald Trump to jump-start the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, which has been frozen since April 2014.
(Map of West Bank settler cities. New planned city in blue. Existing cities in Red. Likely cities in Yellow. By Tovah Lazaroff)
The US has frowned on Israeli settlement activity but has not considered it a stumbling block to its peace efforts.
The other four Jewish cities in the West Bank are Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim, Betar Illit and Modi’in Illit.
There are also plans to build a new city from scratch, called Gevaot, in the Gush Etzion region. But little has happened with regard to that project.