Ariel in the West Bank
West Bank city of Ariel. Photo by Tal Cohen
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Rental prices in the most popular settlements are up to 400 percent higher than prices in the least popular, according to a detailed report on prices in every West Bank settlement.

The report, a copy of which has been obtained by Haaretz, was prepared by a Justice Ministry assessor as part of the 10-month freeze on settlement construction that the government announced last November. Its goal is to determine what compensation is due people who must keep paying rent because they cannot move forward on planned construction of a permanent residence.

The average rental price in the settlements is NIS 22 per square meter, or NIS 3,300 a month for a 150-square-meter house, the survey found. The highest prices are in West Bank towns and cities (NIS 29 per square meter on average ). Among the regional councils, Binyamin has the highest average price (NIS 26.1 ), followed by Gush Etzion (NIS 26 ), while the Jordan Valley has the lowest (NIS 13 ).

But these averages conceal very large gaps. In Hermesh and Mevo Dotan, two isolated settlements in the northern West Bank, for instance, rent is only NIS 10 per square meter. In Avnei Hefetz, near the Green Line, the price rises to NIS 20. But in Karnei Shomron, a northern West Bank settlement that is even farther from the Green Line than Hermesh and Mevo Dotan, the price is NIS 30 - proof that a settlement's quality of life can be more important than location.

Nevertheless, the highest prices in the northern West Bank are in settlements that are right on the Trans-Samaria Highway, and thus offer easy access to the center of the country: Barkan and Etz Efraim (NIS 32 ) and Shaarei Tikva (NIS 35 ).

Among the major cities, the cheapest is the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox ) town of Immanuel at only NIS 13, due mainly to its problematic image. Two other Haredi cities, Betar Ilit and Modi'in Ilit, command much higher prices (NIS 28 and NIS 25, respectively ).

In Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, the price is NIS 22 per square meter, while in Ariel, in the northern West Bank, it is NIS 30.

Suburban settlements near the Green Line, like Givat Ze'ev, Ma'aleh Adumim, Efrat, Elkana, Oranit and Alfei Menashe, command the highest prices: All are NIS 35 per square meter.

Highest of all is Kfar Oranim, which is right on the Green Line, at NIS 40. Yet in Matityahu and Hashmonaim, which are both right next door, rents are only NIS 30 and NIS 35, respectively - again showing that location is not everything.

Rents are lower in the so-called "ideological" settlements, which are usually farther from the Green Line: NIS 28 in Ofra, NIS 22 in Eli and NIS 17 in Ma'aleh Levona. In the most radical of the "ideological" settlements - northern West Bank settlements like Yitzhar, Kfar Tapuah and Har Bracha - the average rent is NIS 20, though in nearby Elon Moreh, it falls to NIS 15.

In the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, the average price is high, but it varies widely among individual settlements - from NIS 37 in Alon Shvut, nearer the Green Line, to just NIS 12 in more distant Ma'aleh Amos.

In the Hebron Hills region, rents are toward the low end, ranging from NIS 12 to NIS 19. And in the Jordan valley, they are even lower, with most settlements commanding rents of only NIS 10 per square meter.

Earlier this month, the Finance Ministry finalized the rules for compensation for the freeze. This document, which Haaretz also obtained, states that someone with a permit to build who has been unable to do so due to the freeze can claim compensation equal to 175 percent of the rent he pays. However, people who violated the freeze will not be entitled to compensation for the period during which they were found in violation.

The document also includes a complex formula for compensating building contractors. But, complained, Efrat mayor Oded Ravivi, it includes no compensation for the settlements' local governments, even though they, too, are losing due to the freeze.