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Smotrich to present Judea and Samaria expansion plan

The initiative comes after a series of Palestinian terrorist attacks.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich addresses a press conference in Tel Aviv, March 2, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich addresses a press conference in Tel Aviv, March 2, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich intends to present a massive development plan for Judea and Samaria at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting.

The move comes during a wave of deadly Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis in Judea and Samaria, including the murder of a kindergarten teacher near Hebron on Monday and the murders of a father and son in Huwara on Saturday.

Mourners attend the funeral of terror victim Batsheva Nigri at the Gush Etzion Regional Cemetery in Kfar Etzion, Aug. 21, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

Smotrich, who oversees civilian issues in Judea and Samaria as a minister in the Defense Ministry, sent a letter to government ministers notifying them of his intention to present the plan at the next meeting of the full Cabinet.

The two-year program to expand development in Judea and Samaria is projected to cost around 700 million shekels ($185 million), and according to estimates that figure could rise to 1 billion shekels ($265 million).

“Last week, we distributed for your comments the government plan for strengthening the settlements of Judea and Samaria. In the wake of the two terrible terrorist attacks this week, we request to bring the plan to the cabinet this upcoming Sunday,” the letter states.

The plan will focus on increasing the Jewish population in the South Hebron Hills and the Jordan Valley.

Homes being built in Judea and Samaria. Photo by Sraya Diamant/TPS.

The U.S. State Department announced that it opposes Smotrich’s plan, arguing that it would undermine a two-state solution.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced on Monday that a Security Cabinet meeting scheduled for Sept. 10 would be moved forward to today in light of the latest attack.

So far in 2023, Palestinian terrorists have killed 35 people (34 Israelis and an Italian tourist) in Israel and carried out almost 200 shooting attacks in Judea and Samaria.

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