Annexation? 66% of Land Auctioned in Israel Was in West Bank

But overall amount of land advertised by Israel Lands Authority was down sharply in January from a year ago

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
The West Bank settlement of Efrat.
The West Bank settlement of Efrat.Credit: Emil Salman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing for the annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the Israel Lands Authority appears to be doing its part to help. In January, two-thirds of the land the government agency offered for residential construction was over the Green Line.

All told, the ILA last month advertised land designated for 3,254 housing units, 2,136 of them in settlements, including Karnei Shomron, Givat Ze’ev, Ma’aleh Adumim and Efrat.

Netanyahu's 'annexation nation' is ready to strike again. ListenCredit: Haaretz Weekly Ep. 60

The figures came as Netanyahu said over the weekend that Israel has begun to draw up maps of land in the West Bank that will be annexed in accordance with U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed peace plan. Netanyahu is courting settler votes ahead of the March 2 election.

However, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said on Sunday any “unilateral action” by Israel to annex parts of the West Bank prematurely would result in the loss of U.S. support for imposing Israeli sovereignty on West Bank settlements.

Moreover, at a time when home prices are rising – they climbed 3.4% in the 12 months through November – the only major ILA auction for land in the central Israel, where the demand for housing is the strongest, was for a parcel zoned for 790 units in Be’er Ya’akov, near Rishon Letzion, according to an analysis by TheMarker.

Moreover, the amount of land marketed by ILA auction was down 24% from a year earlier, when land designated for 4,298 housing units was offered for sale. January 2020 was down even more sharply from December, when the ILA marketed land for 15,040 units, although the agency traditionally markets more land in December in order to boost its annual total.

In a response, the ILA said monthly figures on land marketing did not point to any underlying trends. “The ILA only relates to annual marketing figures to learn about ongoing trend in the housing market, and then only to a limited degree,” it said.

The ILA controls some 90% of the land in Israel, so it has considerable control of the supply of land and the ability of builders to increase housing starts.

The amount of land marketing by the ILA dropped 6%, from land zoned for about 60,000 units in 2018 to 56,000 units in 2019. The January figures point to a further decline in 2020.

Another odd development was the emphasis on land zoned for single-family homes at a time when planners are focusing on denser housing in order to cope with the growing shortage of undeveloped land.

In December, the ILA issued a request for proposal for the construction of 85 single-family homes in the new community of Givot Eden, located within Israel proper near Beit Shemesh. Another was for building 89 houses in Netivot and Arad, in the Negev.

Meanwhile, Mehir Lemishtaken, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s flagship program to reduce home prices, appeared to be losing momentum. The ILA said it marketed land through the program for just 1,070 housing units in January, a 50% drop from January 2019.

Industry sources said the decline reflected shrinking demand for homes in Israel’s northern and southern peripheries, where most of the Mehir Lemishtaken projects are sited.

“We’ve recently been feeling a decline is the number of requests for proposals in Mehir Lemishtaken. Many are being issued, but then they are delayed repeatedly because the ILA issues them without adequate preparation,” said Shaike Nakha, who owns Saleet Real Estate Enterprises.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott