Photo Credit: Yossi Zamir / Flash 90
Qalqilyah is a city in Samaria. It serves as the administrative center for the Qalqilya Governorate. Most of the residents are farmers, and constant contact with Israeli farmers prior to the construction of the security barrier made many residents of Qalqilya bilingual.

The decision by Israel’s Security Cabinet to temporarily shelve a decision to transfer land from Area C to the Palestinian Authority in western Samaria for the construction of 14,000 housing units in the city of Qalqilya has drawn mixed reactions from Israelis.

The head of the Samaria (Shomron) Regional Council, Yossi Dagan, expressed approval in response to Wednesday night’s decision.

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“I welcome the move. This is one step in the right direction,” Dagan said in a statement.

“I call on the Prime Minister to complete the move and remove this hallucinatory plan that endangers the Sharon region and Samaria from the agenda, and to devote a little more time to advancing construction plans for the citizens of the State of Israel in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and throughout the country.”

Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria have struggled with a de facto freeze on basic construction, let alone projects to contend with natural growth, for years, due to pressure on Israel’s government by the Obama administration that preceded U.S. President Donald Trump.

However, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman strongly supports the Qalqilya plan; nor is he the only defense establishment official to do so.

Amos Yadlin, former head of Military Intelligence and the current director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) said during remarks to the Jerusalem Press Club on Thursday that he supports the Qalqilya expansion as well.

The plan calls for transferring land on the eastern side, with the expansion of the city taking place on land that is already privately owned by Palestinian Authority citizens, Yadlin said.

A former general who is a member of the Labor Party, Yadlin also pointed out that Qalqilya has remained calm during the past two years, while other areas have spawned terrorists. His take on the decision by the Security Cabinet was that the move was political, rather than determined by security considerations.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.