Should recent terror attacks impact major housing decisions?

A Palestinian man hangs a Palestinian flag atop the ruins of a mosque
A Palestinian man hangs a Palestinian flag atop the ruins of a mosque, during a snow storm in West Bank village of Mufagara. (photo credit:REUTERS)


The Security Cabinet will reconsider a plan to allow the Palestinian city of Kalkilya to expand into Area C of the West Bank by building 14,000 new homes there, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Likud ministers on Sunday.

The decision followed heavy political pressure on Netanyahu by Likud and Bayit Yehudi ministers to reconsider the plan the security cabinet approved in 2016 to triple the size of Kalkilya.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) posted a tweet after Netanyahu’s comments were made public saying that he welcomes a new discussion on the matter.

Bennett, who is a member of the security cabinet and voted against the plan in 2016, said in his tweet that “in light of Palestinian incitement they should not be given the prize of building 14,000 homes along Route 6. I hope that this time everyone [in the security cabinet] will join in this position.”

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud) told reporters she took issue with the expansion of the city into Area C, which is under full Israeli military and civil control.

Palestinians build “without any limitations” in Areas A and B, the 40% of the West Bank which is under the Palestinian Authority civil jurisdiction, Regev said adding there is no reason to allow them to build in Area C.

These permits should not be granted especially at a time when there are severe limitations on the construction of new Jewish homes beyond the Green Line, she added.

Right-wing politicians are particularly concerned that the plan is a de facto way to transfer the territory to the PA. There is no Palestinian urban growth in Area C. Right-wing politician believe it is unlikely that new area of urban Palestinian growth would be retained by Israel in any final status agreement with the Palestinians.

The cabinet debate comes as US President Donald Trump has begun a new US push to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As part of that initiative he has asked Israel to allow for Palestinian building in Area C of the West Bank and in some cases to transfer portions of that territory to the PA.

Opponents of the plan intend to hold a protest Sunday night outside of Kalkilya that will involve both settlers and Israeli citizens who live inside the city but are inside the Green Line.

A Samaria Regional Council spokeswoman noted that the new plans place the Palestinian homes next to the security barrier. Kalkilya is located just two kilometers away from Kfar Saba and 12 kilometers from the Israeli coastline.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely warned that the plan could endanger the security of the communities around Kalkilya.

Separately, settlers have called on the government to authorize more settler homes, so that the number of authorizations for new Jewish homes to remain at least on par with those of the urban Palestinian units.

The Beit El settlement has set up a protest tent outside the Knesset and the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem to push Netanyahu to keep to a five-year-old promise to authorize 300 new homes.

Netanyahu made that pledge in 2012 after the High Court of Justice mandated the demolition of 30 illegally built homes in the Ulpana outpost on the outskirts of the settlement.

Beit El spokeswoman Yael Ben Yashar said that the units have been authorized, but that Netanyahu has held publication of tenders that would allow the building to start.

The settlement of over 6,000 residents is located outside the route of the security barrier and borders the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

On Thursday, MK Ahmed Tibi told Army Radio that the Kalkilya plan was one of five plans to expand Palestinian cities into Area C. This also includes Ramallah, Tulkarem, Hebron and Jenin, he said.

The Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories has not yet responded to a query with regard to those plans.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post