Smotrich’s Announcement Regarding Four Settlements Granted Locality Symbols

Last night, Minister Bezalel Smotrich issued a statement to the press that was published in several right-wing media outlets, stating that the Ministry of Interior has designated “locality symbols” for four new settlements: Mishmar Yehuda, Beit Hogla, Shacharit, and Asa’el. This bureaucratic move is a direct result of the government’s decision from February 2023 to approve the establishment of nine new settlements, including these four.

A “locality symbol” is a serial number assigned by the Ministry of Interior to each official Israeli locality. For the government to allocate funds and resources for settlement development or to prepare construction plans, a settlement must have a “locality symbol.” Smotrich’s announcement aims to bolster his standing among his supporters as someone who does a lot for the settlements. Therefore, he exploits a bureaucratic maneuver and tries to present it as a new achievement.

The significance of assigning locality symbols to these four new settlements is that the government bureaucracy has already begun working to promote these settlements. It should be noted that since the government’s decision in February to establish nine new settlements, the commander of the military’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs has issued orders in recent months defining the jurisdictional areas of six of them: Mishmar Yehuda, Beit Hogla, Shacharit, Asa’el, Avigayil, and Givat Haroeh. Apparently, defining the jurisdictional area of the remaining three settlements is delayed due to land ownership issues.