Government to advance the construction of new homes in Efrat and Ma’ale Adumim following terrorist attack

The decision to advance the construction of 3,300 new homes was made in a discussion attended by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Galant, and Finance Minister Smotrich, a few hours after the attack in which a young Israeli was murdered and 11 others were wounded. 2,350 of the new homes will be built in Ma’ale Adumim, 700 in Efrat, and 300 in the community of Kedar. The decision is expected to increase tensions in relations with the United States at the height of the war, which has already condemned it.

The Israeli government decided to advance the construction of thousands of housing units in Judea and Samaria following the attack that took place last week near Ma’ale Adumim, in which Matan Elmaleh, a 26-year-old from Ma’ale Adumim, was murdered and 11 other people were wounded.


In a statement sent to the media that same evening, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich wrote that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a discussion on the issue with him, Defense Minister Yoav Galant, and Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, and that “it was decided to convene the Supreme Planning Council to approve thousands of housing units in the settlement.”

According to the announcement, the communities in which construction will be promoted are Ma’ale Adumim with about 2,350 housing units, Kedar located in the Judean Desert, south of Ma’ale Adumim, with about 300 housing units, and Efrat in Gush Etzion, with 694 housing units.

In his statement, Smotrich wrote: “Every terrorist who plots to harm us should know that any raising of a hand against the citizens of Israel will be answered with a death blow and destruction and a deepening of our eternal hold on the entire Land of Israel.”

Every terrorist who plots to harm us should know that any raising of a hand against the citizens of Israel will be answered with a death blow and destruction and a deepening of our eternal hold on the entire Land of Israel.

Bezalel Smotrich, Minister of Finance

The Supreme Planning Council, through which the government will promote construction, is part of the Civil Administration – a military body that manages the civilian aspects of life in Judea and Samaria. The Council holds all planning authority in Judea and Samaria and is parallel in its activity to both the national planning committees and the district committees in the territory of the State of Israel within the 1967 borders.

Until the days of the current government, both the Civil Administration and the Supreme Planning Council were under the responsibility of the Minister of Defense. In consideration of whether or not to promote construction in the settlements, the Prime Minister was directly involved due to the international implications of such actions. As part of the coalition agreements signed with the establishment of the current government, it was agreed to transfer a significant part of the responsibility for this issue to the responsibility of Smotrich, who was elected to the Knesset as chairman of the Religious Zionist Registry, which holds clear right-wing positions and advocates massive expansion of settlements in Judea and Samaria.

In June, the government approved a significant change in how building plans in Judea and Samaria are approved. Until then, the approval of the defense minister and the prime minister is required for every stage – from submitting the plan to validating it. However, according to the decision that was approved, after initial approval by the political echelon, only the approval of Minister of Defense Smotrich will be required for all other stages.  This will significantly shorten the time between planning and construction. The implication in this case is that after Netanyahu and Galant’s approval in principle has been given to advance the construction, Smotrich will be responsible for the continuation of the process, without additional parties involved in his decisions.

Right-wing circles and the settlement leadership in Judea and Samaria welcomed Smotrich’s announcement. Gush Etzion Regional Council Chairman and Yesha Council Chairman Shlomo Ne’eman said: “We welcome the decision to hold a meeting of the Supreme Planning Council to approve thousands of housing units in Ma’ale Adumim, Kedar, and Efrat, and thank the Prime Minister and the Ministers of Defense, Finance, and Strategic Affairs for a Zionist response to the terrible attack this morning. The development of the settlements is an appropriate response to anyone who tries to harm us or undermine our right to the land.”

On hearing the news of the decision to build new homes in Efrat, Efrat Council head Oded Revivi said, “After approving target price apartments for young couples and promoting assisted living, the state is giving Efrat tremendous power and momentum with another 694 housing units. This decision establishes the vision of the capital of Gush Etzion and the protector of Jerusalem to the south.”

On the other hand, the approval of new homes in Efrat and other areas in Judea and Samaria is expected to increase the level of tension between Israel and the United States, which has already increased in recent weeks, amid a war in which American aid is needed more than ever. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby commented on the government’s decision on Friday, saying it was inconsistent with international law.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also addressed the issue during a visit to the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires. Blinken said the United States was disappointed in Israel’s announcement of plans for building new housing in the West Bank, saying they were counterproductive to reaching an enduring peace.

“They’re also inconsistent with international law. Our administration maintains a firm opposition to settlement expansion, and in our judgment, this only weakens, doesn’t strengthen Israel’s security,” Blinken said. Britain’s ambassador to Israel, Simon Walters, also criticized the decision.

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The contents of this article are designed to provide the reader with general information and not to serve as legal or other professional advice for a particular transaction. Readers are advised to obtain advice from qualified professionals prior to entering into any transaction.

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