Gevaot, located in the Etzion settlement bloc..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel on Friday published tenders for 283 new homes in the West Bank settlement of Elkana amidst an already existing international furor over such activity.
The Lands Authority first published tenders for the new homes in November of 2013, as part of a larger package of settlement activity it linked to a release of 27 Palestinian prisoners, but the marketing process was never completed.
The settlement, which is home to 3,860 people, is located 3.1 kilometers from the pre-1967 lines in the Samaria region of the West Bank.
Friday’s announcement marks the second time that tenders have been published to market the homes.
The publication comes as the international community continues to condemn Israel for expanding its holding of state land
by close to a thousand acres.
The Office of the Coordinator of Government Activity in the Territories announced on Sunday that the land in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank had been reclassified to state land from survey land, after an investigation had determined that none of the parcels were private Palestinian property.
There is now a 45-day objection period. Palestinians say the land belongs to five area villages.
The reclassification paves the way for settlers to formally begin the technical work needed to build a fifth Jewish city in Judea and Samaria called Gevaot. The other cities are: Modin Illit, Beitar Illit, Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel.
It would take years, however, for any plans for the city of Gevaot to become reality. In 2012, the Defense Ministry gave initial authorization to build 523 homes on a parcel of state land at the Gevaot site, but then froze the project.
Israel is not obligated to halt or cease settlement construction.
But the international community, including the US, believes that any such activity, even at the planning level, is harmful to any prospect of resurrecting the peace process with the Palestinians.
In real terms on the ground, the actual amount of new construction dropped by 72 percent, in the first half of this year, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.
From January to June of 2013, ground was broken for 1,807 new settlers homes, compared to only 507 in that same period this year.
In addition, there was a 7.2 % decline in finished settler homes in the first two quarter of this year compared to last year.
There was, however, an unusual amount of settlement construction in the first half of 2013 and for the year as a whole.
In 2012, for example, there were 616 housing starts in the first half of that year.
When looking at data from the last four years, there were 1,109 housing starts in West Bank settlements in 2011, 1,205 in 2012 and 2,684 in 2013.
When it comes to finishes there were 1,682 homes completed in West Bank settlements in 2011, 1,271 in 2012 and 1,439 in 2013.