Last Friday, June 2, 2023, a plan for the “Sha’ar Shomron” industrial zone (YOSH/192) was deposited by the Higher Planning Committee (HPC). The aim of the plan is to create a “settlement continuum” between the settlements in the area. The industrial zone is expected to become the largest industrial zone in the West Bank, just nearly 2,700 dunams, with 2 million square meters of land for industrial use. Its location will take advantage of Highway 5 and its proximity to the center of the State of Israel for the movement of both goods and people. In essence, the Sha’ar Shomron will blur the Green Line, bring Israel’s economy into the West Bank territories, and support the economy of the settlements, primarily through property tax payments that will benefit the Shomron Regional Council and the local councils of Elkana and Oranit.
The plan for the new industrial zone in the West Bank, “Sha’ar Shomron,” was initially approved by the Civil Administration in February 2020 and deposited with the HPC last Friday, June 2, 2023. The industrial zone will mainly be built on the lands of the Palestinian villages of Siniria, Rafat, and Az-Zawiya. The industrial zone is intended to be constructed on land designated by the Civil Administration as public land (“state land”), although it includes at least one encroachment on private land within the plan.
Beyond the fact that it involves the establishment of a new settlement in the form of an industrial zone, the plan has also raised public criticism due to the lack of need for an additional industrial zone. The area is already abundant with industrial zones. It is located just west of the Ariel and Barkan industrial areas, and it is in close proximity to industrial areas in the villages of Kafr Qasim and Rosh HaAyin within the State of Israel. Likewise, the plan severely impacts the environment.
Alongside the industrial and commercial areas, educational buildings, office complexes, sports facilities, recreational areas, and tourism sites will be constructed. In the future, there are plans for a transportation connection to the Israeli railway.
Peace Now: “The settlement enterprise is about to receive tremendous economic support in the form of a 2 million square meter industrial zone that will greatly benefit the Shomron Regional Council, strengthen its economy, and, as in previous cases, provide very little, if anything at all, to the Palestinian villages and Palestinians themselves. The Sha’ar Shomron industrial zone is set to deeply integrate Israel’s economy into the occupation mechanism and turn thousands of Israelis into workers for the benefit of the settlement enterprise. This is a hazardous industrial settlement, not only for the Palestinians whose lands it is being built on but for the entire Israeli and Palestinian public. There is no economic prosperity here but rather another expression of the settlement enterprise and the occupation.”