Photo Credit: Wisam Hashlamoun / Flash 90
Expanding housing in Kiryat Arba, next to Hebron, 2018.

In deference to White House demands that Israel freeze “settlement construction,” the government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has significantly reduced the number of housing units approved for construction in Judea and Samaria.

More than 1,800 housing units were removed from the original plan for approval of various stages for nearly 6,000 new apartments and houses on the agenda of the Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Council Subcommittee for Judeaa and Samaria.

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The move followed Biden Administration pressure on Israel to suspend construction in Judea-Samaria Jewish communities.

“The Biden Administration has been clear on this from the outset. We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements which exacerbates tensions and undermines trust between the parties,” US State Department spokesperson Jalina Porter said during a phone briefing with reporters.

“Israel’s program of expanding settlements deeply damages the prospects for a two-state solution.”

Porter also stated from the outset of the call, however, that the US condemns the deadly terror attack that left 16 children without three fathers, and physically wounded four others, in addition to several who were hospitalized in shock.

Regional Council heads in Judea and Samaria expressed fury at the decision.

The Higher Planning Council, expected to convene this coming week, is now set to approve just 3,988 housing units in various stages.

The burgeoning city of Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hebron, is slated to receive just 156 new housing units.

“There are young couples here who give up living near their parents due to the lack of space,” said Kiryat Arba Community Council head Eliyahu Libman. “The Israeli government is surrendering to the Arab enemy at home and abroad,” he told the Hebrew-language Kipa News.

Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, also said in a statement that the government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is “abandoning both the Negev and Judea and Samaria,” and predicted the government will fall.

Contrary to all statements, Dagan said, “18,000 housing units have been removed from the agenda by the Prime Minister’s Office.”

On the bright side, there are plans by the Council to retroactively legalize the budding communities of Mitzpe Dani, a neighborhood of Ma’ale Michmash, and Oz V’Gaon, part of a nature reserve and education center created to memorialize three Israeli teens who were kidnapped and murdered in the summer of 2014 by Hamas terrorists.

In addition, the Defense Ministry is expected to advance plans and/or retroactively approve more than 1,000 homes for Palestinian Authority Arabs in Area C, designated under the Oslo Accords for complete Israeli civilian and security control.

The list of those communities slated to see new housing units – in some cases, as few as 16 – are as follows:

Those Set for Early Stage Permit/Deposit: (1,452)
Nokdim: 32
Ma’ale Adumim: 16
Kedumim: 286
Dolev: 90
Emanuel: 170
Mevo Horon: 110
Shaare Tikva: 192
Elkana: 500
Negohot: 56

Those Set for Final Planning Stage: (2,536)
Dolev: 364
Ma’ale Michmas: 114
Shevut Rachel: 534
Neria: 168
Givat Ze’ev: 136
Efrat: 40
Tzofim: 92
Revava: 64
Tal Menashe: 107
Beitar Illit: 761
Kiryat Arba: 156

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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.