Will cabinet approve massive building plan for PA cities?
Ministers to decide on ‘Qalqiliya Plan’ to cede Israeli-controlled land to PA cities, permit massive expansion of PA city near ‘Green Line’.
Members of Israel’s Security Cabinet will meet Wednesday to discuss a controversial plan to transfer Israeli-controlled land in Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority and permit the expansion of PA cities, including a PA enclave close to pre-1967 Israel and major Israeli population centers.
The so-called “Qalqiliya Plan”, which includes transfers of land from Area C (full Israeli control) in Judea and Samaria to PA cities, would also permit the construction of some 14,000 housing units in Qalqiliya, roughly doubling the size of the PA-controlled city.
While the plan includes expansions in other PA cities across Judea and Samaria, the idea of doubling the size of Qalqiliya has been subject to particularly intense criticism inside Israel, given both the number of homes to be added and the proximity of the city, a frequent terror hotspot, to major Israeli population centers.
Qalqiliya, currently home to some 52,000 PA residents, would be expanded up to the 1949 armistice border – better known as the “Green Line” – bringing the city’s new boundaries to within meters of the pre-1967 frontier and Israel’s security fence.
Just over the “Green Line” lies Highway 6, the primary north-south traffic artery straddling the densely populated coastal plain. Across the “Green Line” from Qalqiliya lies the Israeli city of Kfar Saba, whose eastern border is less than one mile from Qalqiliya’s present boundaries.
The Security Cabinet will reassess the plan on Wednesday, and vote on whether to adopt or reject it.
The plan has the backing of Defense Minister Avidgor Liberman, who has supported goodwill measures to the PA following President Trump’s inauguration.
The 11-member cabinet includes five members of the Likud, two Jewish Home ministers, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman from Yisrael Beytenu, two Kulanu ministers, and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas). At least one Likud minister, Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin, has indicated he will vote against the plan.