“For God will save Zion, and build the cities of Judah; and they shall abide there, and have it in possession.” Psalms 69:36 (The Israel Bible™)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman approved the construction of 800 homes in Judea and Samaria, as well as several hundred new homes for an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
About 560 of the housing units will be built in the city of Ma’ale Adumim, located just west of Jerusalem. Another 140 homes will be constructed in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramot, and a further 100 units in the Har Homa area, a relatively small community in southeast Jerusalem, The Times of Israel reported.
Netanyahu and Liberman also authorized the development of 600 homes in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa in East Jerusalem, a move which has received criticism from Zeev Elkin, the minister for Jerusalem Affairs, due to its proximity to the Jewish community of Givat Hamatos.
“Six hundred housing units for Arab residents for Beit Safafa [is] essentially the Arab part of the future Givat Hamatos neighborhood. You can’t approve construction for Arabs in Givat Hamatos without also developing construction for Jews in the same neighborhood,” Elkin said.
The minister called on Netanyahu to “approve construction in Givat Hamatos for Jews too; Jerusalem needs this neighborhood” and to build “more than 2,000 units urgently” because it is of “strategic value to the [capital’s] development.”
“Those who want to maintain a Jewish majority in the capital cannot promote construction for the Arab population only,” Elkin maintained.
Meanwhile, the Eretz-Israel Knesset lobby, chaired by MK Yoav Kisch and Bezalel Smotrich, welcomed the construction plans for Ma’ale Adumim, and called for the city to be made part of Israel. On Sunday, the lobby launched a campaign titled “It’s Time for Sovereignty,” in cooperation with the municipality of Ma’ale Adumim.
The recent announcement came just a day after the prime minister and defense minister had approved constructing 42 homes in the city of Kiryat Arba, near the Biblical city of Hebron, where 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in her bedroom on Thursday morning.
The construction of new homes are part of a series of measures recently announced by the Israeli government in response to Thursday morning’s stabbing, as well as the shooting attack on Friday which took place on the road to Hebron. Rabbi Miki Mark, the director of the yeshiva (boys’ school) in the community of Otniel, was driving with his wife and two of his children when his car came under gunfire, instantly killing Rabbi Mark, causing the automobile to flip over. Mrs. Mark was critically injured in the attack and their children were also wounded. All three are expected to make a full recovery.
During the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu announced the government is planning out a series of measures in response to the attacks, including a “special effort to strengthen the communities [in Judea and Samaria].”
“We will submit a special plan for Kiryat Arba at the next cabinet meeting, and my directive to ministers which is to combine measures in all ministries to help communities in Judea and Samaria,” Netanyahu said.
Included in its efforts to fight the ongoing terror threats, the IDF deployed two additional battalions to secure Israeli civilians living in Judea and Samaria communities as well as boosting its presence on roads used by Israelis.
Further, Israel imposed closures on Hebron and the Palestinian village of Bani Naim, where Ariel’s killer lived. The work permits of those living in Bani Naim were also canceled in response to the attack.