Bennett under pressure to end building freeze in Judea, Samaria

“Ensuring national interests” in Area C is part of Yemina-Yesh Atid coalition agreement.

By World Israel News Staff

Settlement leaders are urging Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to end a long-time de facto freeze on Jewish building projects in Judea and Samaria.

In a letter to Bennett, settler leader David Elhayani pointed out that no new housing permits have been issued for Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria in the past five months. Elhayani is the chairman of the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization of Israel’s settlement movement.

“Mr. Prime Minister, the Higher Planning Committee has not convened in the last five months to advance or permit housing plans in Judea, Samaria, and the Jordan Valley,” Elhayani wrote.

“Over the last few years, the Higher Planning Committee has typically convened every three months to approve or advance new plans, with all plans that had been preliminary clearly being approved, without exception,” he wrote.

After releasing the letter, Elhayani said the committee’s failure to convene “massively delays settlement expansion. Housing permits are necessary, regardless of the makeup of the government.”

In recent days, Bennett has signaled that Jewish building will advance in Area C. Included in the coalition agreement between Yemina and Yesh Atid is a commitment to “ensuring Israel’s national interests” in Area C.

Under the terms of the Oslo accords, Judea and Samaria are divided into Areas A, B and C. Area C is where all the Jewish communities and IDF-designated security zones are located. Israel retains administrative and security responsibility.

Of the roughly half-million Jews living Judea and Samaria, 84 percent live in settlement blocs adjacent to Jerusalem, such as Gush Etzyon, Maale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev and Beitar Illit — all in Area C.

Area A, where all major Palestinian population centers are, is under the administrative and security responsibility of the Palestinian Authority.

Area B is administered by the PA, though Israel maintains security control.