Reacting to slayings, Israel OKs new West Bank housing

Reacting to slayings, Israel OKs new West Bank housing

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli Cabinet committee approved the construction of hundreds of housing units in West Bank settlements, supposedly in response to a suspected terrorist attack that killed five members of a West Bank Jewish family.

The construction announced Sunday morning was approved Saturday night by a committee meeting in special session a day after the gruesome murders of Udi and Ruth Fogel, and three of their six children in the settlement of Itamar.

The vote, after several months of no new construction approval, is for 500 housing units in Gush Etzion, Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel and Kiryat Sefer. The settlements are believed to be among those that will remain as part of Israel under a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

The committee discussed expanding the Itamar settlement or creating a new settlement in memory of the victims, members of theFogel family, Haaretz reported.

The United States reportedly was informed of the decision.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai told the media that “We should build at least 1,000 units for each person who was murdered.”

Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council settlers’ umbrella group, called the approval of new housing in response to the attack “a small step in the right direction.”

Dayan called on the government to approve more West Bank housing to meet the needs of its residents, including a new neighborhood in Itamar dedicated to the memory of the Fogels — Udi, 36, and Ruth, 35, and children Yoav, 11; Elad, 4; and Hadas, 3 months.

“To our great sorrow, this instance represents the first time since the current Netanyahu government came into power that the building of new homes in Judea and Samaria has been approved and it is deeply troubling that it requires the murder of children in the arms of their parents to achieve such an objective,” he said.

Thousands attended the funeral for the Fogels on Sunday at a cemetery in Jerusaelm.