Report: World Zionist Organization planning on expanding settlements to Galilee to "boost Israeli sovereignty"
The World Zionist Organization’s Settlement Division is formulating a plan to settle more Jews in the Galilee to achieve a demographic balance with the Arab population, a report said on Sunday.
The Israeli daily Haaretz said that this would be accomplished by establishing new towns and expanding existing ones beyond the limits set in the national master plan for development.
The report said that the WZO’s Settlement Division, which is defined by the government as one of its executive arms, has contacted a number of planning firms in recent weeks to suggest that they bid on a tender to prepare a development policy document for absorbing 100,000 new residents in the central Galilee, in the area surrounding the Beit Netofa Valley.
According to the report, the division is already advancing government-sponsored plans to erect a number of new communities in the southern Negev area.
Haaretz said that the goal of the plan is stated clearly in the letters: To further expand and develop the mitzpim (hilltop settlement) plan of the 1980s, with the goal of “giving expression to Israeli sovereignty through settlement activity.”
The letter notes that the mitzpim plan created a strong network of communities but did not succeed in changing the demographic balance in the area. “The current reality in the rural region of the central Galilee is a lack of settlement options that will attract a stable Jewish population and create a meaningful demographic balance,” the letter states.
The report said that in order to attract tens of thousands of new Jewish residents and achieve a demographic balance, the Settlement Division claims that several major steps are necessary, including the establishment of four new communities that already have preliminary government approval.
The report said that two of these communities, to be called Shibolet and Ramat Arbel, have yet to be approved by the relevant planning bodies. Two other communities, Haruv and Yissachar, were originally slated to be built north of Kiryat Tivon in the western Galilee. Now the WZO is proposing that they be moved to new sites east of the Movil junction, to a site in the central Galilee, the report said.