For the second quarter in a row, there were almost no new housing starts in the
West Bank settlements, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Central
Bureau of Statistics.
The report of what is an historic absence of
housing starts in Judea and Samaria comes on the eve of the start of direct
negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the first such meeting
since talks broke down in December 2008. Halting settlement construction has
been one of the key demands Palestinians have made of Israel.
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when the CBS reported its first quarter statistics at the end of May, its data
showed no housing starts for the first quarter of this year. Since then the CBS
has adjusted the numbers slightly, as it often does. Based on the new data there
were only two new housing starts from January to March of this year. From April
to June, the CBS reported only three new housing starts.
according to the CBS, there were a total of five new housing starts in the first
two quarters of 2010, during which time the 10-month moratorium on such activity
was in place.
The number marks a sharp contrast from the 673 new starts
that occurred in that same period last year when there was no
The dramatic drop to almost zero housing starts runs counter
to the trend in the rest of the country, which saw a 17 percent increase in
housing starts during that time.
Separately, there was also a drop of 12
percent in the number of new apartments which were completed in West Bank
settlements in the first two quarters of 2010, even though there was only a two
percent decrease country wide during that same time.
From January to the
end of June of this year 796 new apartment units were completed in West Bank
settlements, compared with the 906 apartment units which were finished in the
same period last year.
According to the moratorium, work can continue on
settlement homes which had a foundation as of November 26, when the ban on new
It was estimated that there were some 3,000 apartment
units which were under construction at that time.
Data for the first
month of the moratorium in December is not available from the
Overall in 2009, there were 1,888 housing starts and 2,070 apartment
In a report that it issued earlier this month, Peace
Now, a grass roots group which monitors settlement construction, said that based
on aerial surveys it had taken of West Bank settlements, there had actually been
295 new housing starts in Judea and Samaria in the first seven months of the
moratorium, from December and until June.
It did acknowledge that the
number was less than half of what it would have been without the
The CBS said at the time that it stood by its data which was
compiled from multiple sources such as the Ministry of Housing and
planning committees, regional and local councils, contractors and
However, the CBS acknowledged that it did not have the
resources to do aerial surveys.