The construction and expansion of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are poised to surge.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff
Among the major shifts that took place when U.S. President Donald Trump took over from his predecessor Barack Obama was a palpable increase in support for the decisions and policies of the democratically elected leaders of the Jewish state.
Specifically, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. embassy there, and slashed funding to Palestinian United Nations agencies that perpetuate the “refugee” issue, instead of working to solve it.
Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are also flourishing in the Trump era. Specifically, Israel is poised to embark on the largest construction surge in those areas in years, with a sharp spike in planning for future construction.
This trend, highlighted last week when an Israeli committee advanced plans for thousands more homes, reflects a change in atmosphere since early 2017, when Obama passed the torch to Trump.
Under Obama, there was reduced construction planning in Judea and Samaria, as part of an overall attempt to pressure Israel into concessions to the Palestinians. Obama’s attitude toward the Jewish state culminated in an eleventh hour betrayal at the U.N. in December 2017, when the U.S. abstained from voting on a resolution demanding Israel halt construction in Judea, Samaria, and parts of Jerusalem.
In 2018, plans for an additional 5,618 units in Judea and Samaria were advanced, nearly half of which were processed last week alone. Together, these numbers are the highest level of planning seen since 2013.
Winds of Change
The biggest surge in construction-related activity during the Trump era is in tenders— large projects that are ready to be launched.
In 2017, 3,154 tenders were issued, up from just 42 during Obama’s final year in office.
“There’s definitely a change of atmosphere,” said Oded Revivi, mayor of Efrat, a large community near Jerusalem, and the chief foreign envoy of the Yesha Council, Judea and Samaria’s governmental body.
Revivi said that Obama pressured Israel into greatly curtailing constriction of new homes. Now, he said, Israel is trying to make up for lost time.
“Basically what you’re seeing now is the statistics are trying to catch up to the needs that were built up during the eight years of the Obama administration, when everything was in a standstill,” Revivi said.