Judea and Samaria should begin preparing for an influx of at least one million new settlers in the coming years, said Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin on Tuesday.
“This will happen – it is only a question of when,” said the minister at a conference on population growth in the Biblical heartland, reported the Jerusalem Post. Elkin estimated that the shift would happen within the next 10 to 20 years.
Currently, the rate of housing construction in Area C of the so-called West Bank, where the populations are primarily Jewish, adds only about 3,000 new units a year. In order to accommodate a million new ‘settlers’, 100,000-120,000 units would be needed, a number which may seem unrealistic considering the current political climate.
However, Elkin believes that if the Yesha regional council, which controls Judea and Samaria, advances plans to prepare infrastructure “as if you could create a zoning plan for one thousand homes and execute it,” then the numbers will “become reality.”
He added that plans like this would send a strong message to international bodies who pressure Israel to give up its developments in Judea and Samaria.
“They will change the entire outlook with regard to diplomacy security and settlements and will show everyone that there is no turning back here,” Elkin said.
The minister also dismissed the idea of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, saying, “There is no other option but the state of Israel, certainly between the Jordan [River] to the sea there will be one state.”
According to a 2016 population census, a total of 400,000 Jews currently live in communities in Judea and Samaria.
Ze’ev Hever, head of the construction arm of the settlement movement, known as Amana, predicted that population growth would be centered in larger established cities, such as Efrat in Gush Etzion outside of Jerusalem, and Ariel, located in the Samaria region.
“The settlements are established in the people of Israel’s heart,” said Hever.