According to Peace Now, 2023 has been a banner year for Jewish life in Judea and Samaria, with all-time records set for construction permits and housing starts.
According to the data, from the beginning of 2023, since the establishment of the new Netanyahu government and the appointment of Bezalel Smotrich as the minister in charge of the settlements in the defense ministry, the government has approved the upgrading of 22 Jewish enclaves from “illegal outposts” to legal settlements.
It’s the largest number of regulated settlements since the second Rabin government which was dedicated to replacing Jewish communities with Arabs.
The diamond in the necklace of newly normalized settlements is Homesh, in northern Samaria, which started as a legal settlement until then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was caught in a scandal that could end him in prison and so to guarantee his personal freedom, he launched a fairy evil plan to uproot some 8,000 Jews from the Gaza Strip and Samaria, including Homesh. The current Netanyahu government revoked the “disengagement act,” and while it cannot at the moment return Jewish farmers to their once thriving lands in Gush Katif in Gaza, it did declare Homesh legal again.
Evyatar is another settlement that was upgraded from an illegal post after legal experts of the IDF Civil Administration conceded that it was not standing on private Arab land. The Army, which originally signed a pact with the people of Evyatar that if they leave their homes peacefully and the area is declared legal, they would be allowed to return – that Army was reluctant to make good on its promise. But then, as Peace Now noted so very begrudgingly, Bezalel Smotrich got involved and Evyatar is back, alive and well, and ready to grow and prosper.
Peace Now mentioned several more settlements which started as “neighborhoods” that were adjacent to existing communities in Judea and Samaria, despite the obvious distance between them and the legal settlements. Well, now many of them have been recognized as legal, individual settlements: Mevo’ot Yericho in the Jordan Valley, Nofei Nehemia outside Rehelim in Samaria, and Zayit Raanan near Talmon in Binyamin.
According to Peace Now, ten outposts received government approval but have not yet received planning approval and construction permits, and are currently defined according to Israeli law as legal settlements where construction is illegal. A temporary limbo, if you will. These include Avigail in Mount Hebron; Sde Boaz in Gush Etzion; Beit Hogla in the Jordan Valley; Givat Haro’eh and Givat Harel in Binyamin; Shacharit, Givat Arnon (“Giva 777”) and the “Mal’achey HaShalom” farm in Samaria; Asahel in Mount Hebron; and Mitzpe Yehuda (“Givat Adumim”) in the Judaean Desert.
Peace Now believes there has been a sharp increase in establishing new “illegal outposts” in the liberated territories, most of which are removed by security forces a short while after they are set up, although the anti-Zionist group suspects there are five such outposts that have not been demolished.
The Supreme Planning Council, which approves construction plans in Judea and Samaria, convened three times in 2023 and approved the construction of 12,855 housing units. In addition, tenders have been published for the construction of 1,289 units that have already been confirmed.
At the last meeting of the council, on June 26, approximately 5,700 units were approved, in Ma’ale Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, Ariel, Beitar Elit, Elkana, Revava, Carmel, Harmesh, Eli, Adora, Etz Ephraim, Ma’ale Amos, and Asaper.
According to Peace Now, over the past decade, between 1,000 and 12,000 units were approved each year. In 2020, under the Lapid-Bennett-Gantz government, only 12 units were approved.