New plan for a million residents in Samaria by 2050 sent to Netanyahu

The Samaria Regional Council proposal sent to the prime minister is meant to both strengthen Israel’s heartland and lower housing prices.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In a bid to strengthen the biblical heartland while lowering housing prices in the central part of the country, the Samaria Regional Council laid a plan on the prime minister’s desk Wednesday to double the population in the contested region to a million by the year 2050.

The plan, called “A Million for Samaria,” which rhymes in Hebrew (‘Shomron l’Million’), is very detailed, having been researched for over a year by engineers, architects, geographers and other professionals.

Among its housing targets, it envisions quintupling the size of Ariel – the main city in the region with its own university – from some 20,000 residents, to 100,000, and building a similarly large new metropolis near Rosh Ha’ayin, which, like Ariel, would straddle the so-called “Green Line.” Several settlements would be expanded into smaller cities, including those that had been forcibly evacuated in the 2005 Disengagement because they were specifically located in security-sensitive areas.

The plan lays out a transportation system to ease commutes to Israel’s main business centers, including more and better roads, a train network and even an airport. Industrial areas are also proposed, allowing for many residents to work locally instead, as well as a new hospital.

Read  Terrorist gunman wounds two Israelis in roadside shooting attack in Samaria

In his accompanying letter, Council head Yossi Dagan wrote that the blueprint would be a hugely positive step both ideologically and practically.

“The Samaria region, located in the heart of the Land of Israel, is of historical and national importance and is the cradle of both the Bible and Israeli culture,” he reminded Netanyahu, who has often described the area in exactly such terms to foreign audiences.

“I call on you, Mr. Prime Minister, to adopt this plan as the work plan of the current government for the future of settlement in Judea and Samaria and throughout the country, and thereby lower housing prices in the center of the country while strengthening the security of the State of Israel by holding onto the mountain ranges – an unparalleled strategic, Zionist and principled act,” he continued.

Dagan emphasized that all construction would take place on state-owned land, millions of dunams of which are currently standing empty. This would ostensibly obviate any legal impediments, as Palestinians and their supporters could not claim that the government was confiscating their property.

The Sovereignty Movement, which came out with its own massive building plan called Eastward Ho! for Judea and Samaria last October, was all for the proposal, while saying it did not go far enough.

Read  Terrorist gunman wounds two Israelis in roadside shooting attack in Samaria

Movement co-head Nadia Matar told World Israel News that while they “bless every initiative that brings Jews to our God-given Biblical heartland, we are not satisfied with one million. One million is not enough.”

It also won’t happen, she said, until Israel applies its sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley. “In order for them to be able to stay, and in order for investors to invest, and in order for the State of Israel finally, once and for all, to finish the Six Day War and say this is ours forever, it must be combined with, or even started with, the application of Israeli sovereignty.”

Based on meticulous research, the Eastward Ho! plan shows that by building 25,000 housing units a year in Judea and Samaria, housing costs in the high-demand, central region would be reduced by as much as 35-45%.