JPost - Could building near settlements help housing crisis?
- JPost - Sun, July 31, 2011
The Jerusalem Post
Could building near settlements help housing crisis?
By BEN HARTMAN
‘Samaria Plan’ calls to solve housing shortage by expanding settlements
near Green Line.
Fed up with rent prices in Tel Aviv or elsewhere to the left of the
Green Line? Yehuda Pavah may have the answer for you.
The 26-year-old father of two from Ofra has launched “The Shomron Plan,”
a Facebook initiative he hopes will encourage Israelis protesting in the
tent cities across the land that the solution to their soaring rents and
mortgages lies to the east, in the settlements of western Samaria
situated near the Green Line.
“The solution to Israel’s housing concerns – enough with the whining,”
begins the description on the initiative’s Facebook page.
It continues, “Today Israel lacks 120,000 housing units. Of course we
need to develop the Negev and the Galilee, but it will take a while to
develop the transportation there. In the meantime, there is an immediate
solution: Western Samaria. In areas like Barkan, Alfei Menashe, Kochav
Yair, Beit Aryeh there is room for 75,000 apartments, 20 minutes from
Tel Aviv. There are no problems of transportation or employment.
This is land in the hands of the state that will remain in Israel’s
hands in any future political settlement.”
The message ends with “the solution: Immediate governmental allocation
of land to young couples.”
“I live in Ofra, and I see the housing shortage here and in all of the
Young families living in trailers and they need to move to real
houses,” Pavah said, and added that he is certain if there is more and
more building in the settlements, it will bring down the prices of
housing across the country.
When asked if the plan could cause tension with the Obama
administration or complicate a settlement with the Palestinians, he
said, “We need to think about what’s good for us first. If we know that
the housing problem will be solved by building in Samaria, we need to
present this to the Americans. But first we need to think about what’s
good for us.”
As for the Palestinians, “Some of their leadership may have a problem
with it, but the people themselves are the ones who build the
settlements, they don’t care.
A great deal of money goes to the Palestinians because of the
settlements being built there, and we can bring in more Palestinian
workers with more construction,” Pavah said.
“Not only is it good for them [the Palestinians], it’s very lucrative
for them as well.”
A number of activists, some wearing “Kahane Lives” T-shirts, tried to
present the plan at the tent city on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv on
Thursday, but were met with outright dismissal and a few shouting matches.
Pavah said that so far, that has been his experience across the board
with the housing protesters, but he hopes that changes sometime soon.
“The extreme left that started the protest and is leading it and only
wants to bring down the government, they’re not willing or ready to hear
the solution,” he said.