Israel Eyes More Settlements to Alleviate Housing Crisis

Tel Aviv is overcrowded and housing prices are sky high; the simple solution? Build in the nearby hills of Samaria

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Israel's Knesset on Tuesday was set to hear a proposal on a massive increase in settlement construction in Samaria (the so-called "West Bank") as a solution to the housing crisis in Greater Tel Aviv.

Known as Gush Dan – or the Dan Bloc – Tel Aviv and its environs is home to the bulk of Israel's population, despite being a very narrow strip of land.

The result has been skyrocketing housing prices that have left most young families unable to purchase a home without moving to periphery regions where jobs are far less plentiful.

The heads of the Yesha Council, which represents the Jewish settlements, say the solution is both simple and obvious.

Just a few short miles to the east of Tel Aviv lies the much more sparsely-populated biblical heartland of Samaria. For the past decade or so, Israel has refrained from mass construction in Samaria due to international pressure to preserve the area for a future Palestinian state.

But, eventually, the needs of the people are going to outweigh foreign pressure. The Yesha Council believes that time has arrived.

The "East Gush Dan" proposal envisions affordable housing for up to 340,000 Israelis in the Samaria lowlands just to the east of Tel Aviv.

It's a plan that makes sense to a growing number of Israelis who see the peace process with the Palestinians going nowhere. Most also see the surprise victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election as a golden opportunity to further fulfill the biblical mandate to settle these lands – whether out of ideology or necessity.

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