Gevaot, located in the Etzion settlement bloc..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Gush Etzion Regional Council head Davidi Perl accused the IDF and the government of caving to international pressure by delaying advancement of the Gva’ot project.
Perl is dreaming of building a fifth West Bank city in his region, just outside the Alon Shvut settlement in an area known as Gva’ot.
At present there are only four settlements large enough to be considered cities, Modi’in Illit, Betar Illit, Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel.
At the end of August, the Civil Administration completed an investigation into the land status of 400 hectares (a little under 1,000 acres) at the future Gva’ot site and reclassified that property as state land.
The Palestinian Authority and much of the international community, including the US and European countries condemned the reclassification.
Until August, the property had been listed as survey land, implying that it was unclear whether it was privately owned by Palestinians or belonged to the state.
The reclassification paves the way for planning work to begin for a future city at that site, which is now mostly empty. But that work can only begin only after it is clear that no ownership challenges exist.
A 45-day period to challenge the change of categorization ended on October 14, and Perl imagined that planning work would commence.
Instead the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories sent Perl a letter explaining that the objection period had been extended beyond the alloted time, to allow for two Palestinian attorneys to submit their objections on behalf of clients who claim ownership of the Gva’ot land.
Perl said he believed that the delay was the government’s way of caving to international pressure.
“The 45-day objection period is over and work should now begin,” he said.