Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
High demand and low supply characterize the housing market in various Judea and Samaria communities, Israel Hayom reported. In the newly built Leshem quarter of the Alei Zahav community, houses which sold for NIS 900,000 ($252,000) two years ago now sell for up to NIS 1.7 million ($477,000). Similar price spikes have been reported in Yakir, Etz Ephraim, Har Bracha, and other communities in Samaria.
In the last decade, the population of Gush Etzion has tripled, surpassing 20,000. The local council chief, Davidi Perl, said that for every Jewish community in Gush Etzion, an average of 15 families were hoping to be accepted as residents. Overall, 300 families are waiting to move into Gush Etzion.
Housing prices in Gush Etzion, meanwhile, over the last five years have skyrocketed by dozens of percentage points. A piece of land in the Gush Etzion community of Tekoa cost just NIS 50,000 ($14,000) only five years ago. Now, the starting price is NIS 350,000 ($98,000). Demand for housing is so high in Gush Etzion that in recent years, some towns there have begun collecting “entry fees” for prospective inhabitants.
Real estate prices have also risen dramatically in Ariel, doubling in the last three years. A four-room apartment that cost NIS 600,000 ($168,000) three years ago sells today for up to NIS 1.2 million ($336,000). A cottage that could have been had for NIS 700,000 ($196,000) then sells today for NIS 1.5 million ($421,000).
“It was only recently that we received construction permits, but we are still far off from meeting the minimum requirements in the city,” Ariel Mayor Eli Shviro said. “The demand is tremendous, but the supply is low.”
Israel recently announced plans for 1,200 new housing units in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, a decision that was slammed by the United States due to concern over the fate of Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations. Secretary of State John Kerry, who led the efforts to renew negotiations, said Aug. 12 that the U.S. “views all of the settlements as illegitimate.” Those communities, however, are situated in an area that is considered to be subject to the result of Israeli-Palestinian final status negotiations.
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