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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Israelis thumb their noses at US and EU: Housing prices in 'settlements' skyrocket

For those who are new or otherwise wondering why I put 'settlements' in scare quotes in the title to this post, it's because I hate the term. To me at least, it gives an impression of being something temporary, and I cannot think of any place populated by Jews in Israel as being a temporary home. Temporary homes for Jews only exist in the diaspora where we are supposed to pine for our imminent return to the land of Israel, and not in Israel itself. Surely as we sit a few days before Tisha b'Av, the fast that commemorates the destruction of the two Temples, we must understand that our forefathers were not sitting around waiting for their homes to be destroyed, even if they knew through the prophets that it was going to happen. Enough for my soapbox.

Israelis are becoming more secure that in fact the land of Israel - all of Israel - will remain ours. As a result, Jews are snapping up homes in Judea and Samaria as fast as they can be built, and prices are skyrocketing. The picture above is a partial view of Givat Zev, which is right outside Jerusalem, and which has been growing by leaps and bounds, filling more and more of the land that has been considered part of that town before the 1993 Oslo Accords. The picture was taken in April of this year.

But what's more impressive, as you will see in this article, is that Kfar Tapuach, which is not part of a 'settlement bloc' like Givat Zev, has also seen its home prices rising.
The first time Michal Ronen traveled to her rental apartment in this Jewish settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories, a firebomb struck her bus.
“I was so hysterical,” she said. “I thought that happens every time.” Now Ms. Ronen and her husband are looking to buy a home in Kfar Tapuach.
The eagerness of Israelis to own a home on disputed land is an increasingly important political and financial barrier to a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace based on two neighboring states, critics of settlement expansion say.
Israel has said that settlements aren’t an impediment to a two-state solution because many of them could be exchanged for Israeli territory in a future deal.
Prices are rising faster in many Jewish settlements than in major cities such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv because of strong demand from Israeli home buyers. Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahu’s government is increasing the incentives for settlers, despite objections from the U.S. and other world powers to expanding the settlements.
Israel would almost certainly have to compensate settlers for moving from any land included in a future Palestinian state, according to researchers at the Tel Aviv-based Macro Center for Political Economics. That would amount to billions of dollars, depending on the number of settlers who had to relocate, the center estimated.
Indeed. I don't trust 'Peace Now' for anything, so take this with a grain of salt, but look at this graphic.
It should be noted that all of the 'West Bank settlements' noted above are in 'settlement blocs,' areas that Israel says it would keep in any conceivable 'peace settlement' with the 'Palestinians.' The United States committed, during the Bush administration, that Israel would in fact be allowed to keep the 'settlement blocs,' a promise that was reneged upon by the self-proclaimed 'most pro-Israel administration evah.' Congress backed the Bush commitment.

While home prices have risen because people want to move to Judea and Samaria because it appears safe to do so, that 'safety' theoretically ought to exist only in the 'settlement blocs.' None of that explains the meteoric rise in prices in Kfar Tapuach:
In Kfar Tapuach, where Ms. Ronen lives, the price of land has more than tripled in the past five years, according to data from Israel-based property website Madlan.

Residents of Kfar Tapuach, a settlement of roughly 200 families near the Palestinian city of Nablus, said house prices have benefited from the growth of a university in the nearby settlement of Ariel.
Ms. Ronen said she and her husband, Yuval, moved to the settlement because Mr. Ronen studies engineering at the university. They live there with their three children. “We now really want to buy a house,” she said, adding that they say it has to be now because prices are “going up crazy.”
Well yeah, but tripled? Ariel has had the university for many years (although it got university status officially in 2012). And Israel is not like the US where you need a Bachelor's degree to be a plumber.

Yes, some of the rise is explained by straight supply and demand calculations: Under pressure from the self-proclaimed 'most pro-Israel administration evah' Israel has underbuilt even in the 'settlement blocs.' But if people felt they needed to worry constantly about being expelled from Judea and Samaria for a 'Palestinian state,' there would be no demand. 

Bottom line: The rise in price is best explained by the fact that Israelis feel secure that their land will not be turned over to the 'Palestinians.' And that's good for everyone. Actions should have consequences.

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At 3:07 PM, Blogger genes said...

They are all Israeli cities or towns. Settlements are what the Jordanians established during the occupation with the Arab Muslims they didn't want in Jordan.

At 7:32 AM, Blogger Ben Jacobs said...

I don't dispute that this is all good from a biblical perspective. Personally, bowever, my wife and I (lawyer and doctor) are resigned to never being able to afford to live in Israel, Frustrating.

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Hi Ben,

My wife (Masters in Computers) and I (lawyer) are supposed to be able to make it here financially, and we tell people that we are the ultimate proof that parnassa (making a living) comes only from God.


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