Etz Efraim, one of the communities proposed to be part of the new city [Photo Credit: Ezra Ridgley]
A special committee appointed by the Director General of the Ministry of Interior (a government body) recommended the establishment of a new city in West Samaria, which will be primarily comprised of smaller communities that are currently located in the area, News 0404 reported. The committee published its recommendations on Wednesday and sent them to the heads of local authorities. According to the committee’s report: “The committee seriously considered its recommendation and decided unanimously to act to unify the municipalities of Oranit, Elkana, Shaarei Tikva and Etz Efraim.”
According to estimates, the Ministry of Finance is expected to invest more than NIS 120 million (roughly 35 million US dollars) in order to enable the new city to grow rapidly. The committee noted that the move would be expected to save large sums of money to the government, since the four authorities (which now have a total population of about 22,000) are forced to maintain four different systems of services and local municipalities for residents. It seems the committee members agree on reducing and consolidating four municipalities into one system will lead to a better utilization of the government budget.
There has not been a city in Samaria for 20 years. The establishment of a new city in Samaria would add strength and new financial opportunities to residents of the region. The last and only city in Samaria that was established by the Israeli government is Ariel, which today is considered to be the most powerful city in Judea and Samaria, with a university, a cultural center and a shopping mall.
Some of the more recent developments in Judea and Samaria that were favorable for its residents include: the budget allocation for bypass roads in Judea and Samaria– for roads that would make it safer for Jews to travel there, the beginning of construction in Amichai, the first new government sanctioned community in Judea and Samaria in 25 years, and the formal legalization of permanent homes in Rehelim (Samaria).
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously expressed his strong support for Judea and Samaria in clear terms. In September, Netanyahu issued a statement, “there was not and will not be a [Israeli] government more pro-Judea and Samaria than ours.” Earlier, in July, Netanyahu promised the pioneers of Judea and Samaria that “there will not be [another] uprooting of any community in Israel.”
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