MA'ALEH LAVONA, West Bank (Jun. 28)
Jewish families settling the West Bank should each “adopt” a family of recently arrived immigrants, Housing Minister David Levy declared Tuesday.
Levy said the government could aid in the building of new houses if settlers embraced the plan, which could conceivably double the number of Jewish families now living in the Israeli-administered territories.
Levy unveiled his plan at dedication ceremonies for 24 new apartments at this Orthodox religious settlement, located on a commanding hilltop between the Arab cities of Nablus and Ramallah.
The plan is the latest of several Levy has proposed to meet the absorption challenge posed by a wave of new immigrants from the Soviet Union. On Monday, he told world Jewish leaders of his plans to encourage “large-scale building” with tax incentives and to rehabilitate empty apartments in northern and southern Israel.
But the latest idea is also an attempt to deal with Jewish settlers’ demands for increased government aid and military support in their almost daily conflict with Palestinians in the territories.
Levy’s appearance among flag-waving settlers here was a frank statement of his and his Likud party’s support for the settlement movement.
He boasted that despite the Palestinian uprising, Jewish settlers moved into 1,000 new apartments in the past year.
Levy said the government would help families move from temporary to permanent housing and would build roads between Jewish settlements that would circumvent potentially dangerous Arab towns and villages.
He said the money for these moves would come from the pledge by the national unity government earlier this year to allocate 30 million shekels for the settlements.
Leaders of Ma’aleh Lavona met privately with Levy before the dedication ceremony to press their demands. They later applauded his plans.
The settlement was established in 1984 and now has 128 residents. Settlers boasted that the community’s 70th child was born Sunday.