Judea and Samaria: Who's Allowed to Build?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017 |  Aviel Schneider

Jewish construction in the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria has come to a near standstill. Jewish settlers and their representatives in the government hold Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responsible for the freeze.

Publicly, Netanyahu speaks of the importance of settling the land. But behind the scenes, he's accused of doing everything in his power to curb Jewish construction.

"Netanyahu is playing us for fools," insisted Salman Melamed, a leading rabbi in the settler movement. Housing Minister Uri Ariel has demanded that Netanyahu "restart construction in the Jewish settlements immediately."

More than 350,000 people currently live in the 120 Jewish settlements scattered across Judea and Samaria. Due to a high rate of natural growth, more homes are urgently needed.

Compounding the frustration of right-wing voters is the fact that Netanyahu has largely turned a blind eye to burgeoning Palestinian Arab construction in the disputed territories. "Even as we are bullied by the Palestinians, we hand them 14,000 new houses adjacent to Highway 6," Education Minister Naftali Bennett lamented on Twitter.

Bennett and other members of Netanyahu's cabinet have urged the prime minister to, at the very least, freeze Palestinian construction so long as Jews aren't allowed to build.

Many Israelis are coming to realize, to their chagrin, that Netanyahu's government has actually frozen Jewish settlement far more than any other government before his, left or right.

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