The Minister of Defense approved the promotion of a plan to build 523 units in a new settlement called Gevaot, South-West of Bethlehem. This approval will allow the Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration to convene and approve the depositing of the plan for public review. When the plan will be deposited, the public will be granted 60 days to file objections, after which the Planning Council will hear the objections and then approve the plan. After this final approval, tenders may be issued and the construction may start. This process may take a year or two.
The plan for the 523 units is part of a larger working-plan of the Ministry of Housing to build a city in Gevaot for some 6,000 units, and eventually 13,000 units. This working plan is not a detailed plan that can be approved built, but it shows the intentions of the ministry.
Gevaot is located in an isolated area of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. The head of the Gush Etzion settlement council was quoted a few months ago as saying that “Gevaot is the most important development that has occurred in Gush Etzion in recent years”. It is no accident that the settlers see it as an important development. The decision of the Government on the new settlement is another slap in the face of the Palestinians and the international community, as well as the Israeli public, showing that the commitments of the Government not to establish new settlements and not to create facts on the ground that will effect the final status were only words in the air.
Gevaot today is a site with several caravans manned by a dozen of settlers. In 1984 Gevaot was established as a Military Base. During the 90’s the soldiers were replaced by Yeshiva students that occupied the 30 caravans on site. On 2003 the Yeshiva moved to Efrat and only few families stayed in Gevaot to keep the site alive. Officially Gevaot was never announced by the government as an independent settlement. In 1998 the site was included within the Municipal Borders of the settlement of Alon Shvut, which is located 3 km away from Gevaot. This way the Government can claim that the approval of the 523 units is not an establishment of a new settlement but an “expansion” of an existing settlement. Earlier this year it was reported that the Minister of Defense approved the promotion of 60 units in Gevaot, for a community of people with special needs.