Next Likud government will expand Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, minister vows

Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin says a million Jews in the region is not only doable but “a goal we must achieve.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) visited Samaria last week and promised that one of the major goals of the next government will be to encourage the fast growth of the Jewish population in the region.

After touring the area with Regional Council Head Yossi Dagan, Levin said that they agreed on the need to build much more quickly.

“This provides a solution not only to the settlers’ needs, but also to the growth that is absolutely required in Judea and Samaria. The goal of a million Jews in Judea and Samaria is not only practical, but a goal that we need to achieve – and in a short time,” he stated.

Strength on the ground will determine the future, he said, so significantly accelerating construction will make it an “irreversible fact that we are here, in our land, in the Land of Israel.”

For his part, Dagan expressed the frustration he and others have felt over the fact that a supposedly right-wing government has built so few homes in the region

“Our joint mission in the next term must be: to increase the construction [and] regulate the young settlements, which the Israeli public is waiting for, as the supply exceeds demand,” he noted, adding the point that “What will prevent a Palestinian state is the masses on the ground.”

Levin himself is known as a solid supporter of the annexation of Judea and Samaria. In the December 2017 Likud central committee meeting, which unanimously voted to apply Israeli law to the Jewish villages of the region, he said, “We’re here to state the obvious. The land of Israel is all ours, and we will implement our sovereignty on all parts of the country.”

He has also spoken out against the government on the issue when he felt that protesting from within was not enough. Following several terrorist attacks last month, he joined a demonstration organized by Samarian regional council heads before heading into a cabinet meeting in order to support their call for more security and regulating the nascent villages whose legal status has been in limbo for years.

In 2017, together with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, he attempted to promote a directive that before working on a law, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation would ensure that Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria would be protected by it as well. Currently, Israeli law does not automatically apply in the disputed territories, as the IDF is officially in charge there and laws are applied by military order.