Settler housing starts spiked by 176% in the first quarter of 2013, as construction in the two largest settlement cities of Beitar Illit and Modin Illit, roared back to life after being almost dormant for the last three years, according to Central Bureau of Statistics Data.

In the first three months of this year, work began on 865 new homes in Judea and Samaria, of which 265 were in Beitar Illit and 241 were in Modin Illit, according to the CBS.

In comparison, during the first quarter of 2012, work began on only 313 new settler homes out of which, 12 were in Beitar Illit and 26 were in Modin Illit.

If one looks at the figure for work that began on new settler homes in the first three months of this year, without Beitar Illit and Modin Illit, than the 359 new starts, is very similar to the 313 starts in the first quarter of 2012.

Both the Beitar Illit and Modin Illit settlement blocs are very close to the pre-1967 lines and would likely become part of Israel in any final status agreement with the Palestinians.

In the last 18 years, construction in Beitar Illit and Modin Illit as well as the next largest settlement city Ma’aleh Adumim has often made close to 50% of the new building in Judea and Samaria.



In 2009, right before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu imposed a ten-month moratorium on all housing starts in West Bank settlements, those three settlements made up 45% of the 1,963 starts in that year.

When the moratorium was lifted in September of 2010, the number of new starts in those three settlements remained at almost a standstill.

As a result, the number of new housing starts in West Bank settlements has been unusually low in the last three years; 1,044 in 2012, 1,107 in 2011 and 736 in 2010. The 2010 number is a direct result of the moratorium on housing starts which was in place for nine-months of that year.

In contrast, in 2008, there were 2,324 starts and in 2007, 1,471 new starts in West Bank settlements.



Ma’aleh Adumim is unlikely to see a similar building surge because it has used up almost all of its zoned land. It cannot continue to expand unless plans for 3,500 new homes in the un-built area of the city, known as E1, are authorized.

But at present, according to city Mayor Benny Kashriel, the E1 plans are frozen, because Netanyahu has not allowed them to be re-deposited with the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria.

Still, the building in Beitar Illit and Modin Illit was enough to dramatically spike the number of West Bank settlement housing starts.

The CBS data comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry  is pushing a new diplomatic initiative to re-kindle direct Israeli Palestinian talks which have been largely frozen since December 2008.

To encourage those efforts Netanyahu has promised the United States not to initiate new building projects in West Bank settlements or in Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.

Since January no new tenders have been published for West Bank settlement or Jewish homes in east Jerusalem.

The new building in Beitar Illit and Modin Illit is the result of building permits granted before Kerry’s new diplomatic initiative.

According to the CBS, in contrast to the housing starts data, the number of finished homes in Judea and Samaria has dropped by 13% in the first quarter of 2013, from 310 in the first three months of 2012, to 251 for the first three months of this year.

Overall the number of finished homes in Judea and Samaria has dipped significantly. In 2009, there were 2,063 finished homes, in 2010 that number was 1,670. It stayed relatively the same in 2011, with 1,682 finished homes. It dropped in 2012 to 1,269 finished homes.                        

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