Excitement surrounds announcement of construction of new homes in Israel‘s heartland, Judea and Samaria.

The Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria recently authorized construction of 878 new Jewish homes within greater Israel, most of them located beyond the Green Line. While construction was officially approved several weeks ago, the process was postponed ostensibly to facilitate American efforts to jump-start peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The delay was apparently a response to Palestinian preconditions that included a complete freeze in constructing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, freeing pre-Oslo era terrorists, and the use of 1967 borders as baselines for negotiation.

Approved construction includes 112 new Jewish homes in the ancient Jewish community of Shiloh, resting place of the ancient Israelite Tabernacle, 559 units in Talmon, just north of Modiin, 38 units in Kochav Yaakov, northeast of Jerusalem, and 31 units in Gush Etzion. The Civil Administration’s approval is only the second step in a lengthy multiphase approval process before construction projects in Judea and Samaria can actually begin.

Prominent members of Jewish communities within Judea and Samaria are optimistic about the new construction. Dani Dayan of the Yesha Council announced, “The Yesha Council welcomes the long overdue decision to foster natural development in a number of communities in Judea and Samaria with the preliminary advancement of building permits. This is not a dramatic change of policy, but it stresses the obvious fact that the 368,000 Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria are a living, breathing reality with rights and needs that cannot and should not be ignored.”

This approval comes on the heels of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s announcment that he will not sign any agreements with the European Union unless it revises its settlement guidelines, under which Israel must renounce claims to Judea and Samaria, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights before entering into any future agreements with the EU. The guidelines also forbid any dealings with Jewish communities located over the Green Line.

Despite increased pressure on Israel to withdraw from the historic heartland of Judea and Samaria, whose rich Jewish history dates back to antiquity, Prime Minister Netanyahu has signified that Israel will continue to enforce her right to historic Jewish territory, as well as her security needs.

By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United With Israel