The basic error is to treat all the settlements alike.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Settler housing starts in the West Bank dropped 52% in the third quarter of 2018 when compared to the period from April to June, according to data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.
It’s significantly greater drop than the nation wide decrease of 19%.
The decrease in settler starts comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currying favor with his right-wing to show that he is strong on settlement construction.
Overall, however, settler housing starts from January to September of this year rose by 20%, from 1,216 to 1,459 when compared to the first nine months of 2017. Nation wide, the number of housing starts was down by 17%.
On Tuesday night, UN Special Coordinator of the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov noted a decrease in settlement planning activity in Area C for the period from September 13 to December 14.
He spoke as part of his quarterly report to the UN Security Council on the implementation of UNSC Resolution 2334, which calls on Israel to halt Jewish building in Judea and Samaria.
Mladenov said that “200 [settler homes] in Area C reached the final stage of approval. This is the lowest number of quarterly advancements and approvals recorded since the resolution was adopted. This period, like the last quarter, saw no tenders issued.”
According to the CBS, there was also a 16% drop in the number of finished settler homes, 598 units to 489, from the third to the second quarter of 2018.
Overall, there was a 19% increase in the number of finished homes in the first nine months of this year, when compared to the same period in 2017.
That’s a stark contrast to the 2% decrease nation wide from the first three quarters this year to the first nine months of last year.
In New York on Tuesday, UN Security Council members condemned Israeli settlement building, which Mladenov said was illegal under international law.
British Ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce said, “settlements present an obstacle to peace and threaten the viability of the two-state solution. We urge the government of Israel to reverse its policy of settlement expansion.”
Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog noted that Resolution 2334 was approved two years ago and must be implemented because it is key to the return to the path of peace.
The EU already labels settlement products as not belonging to the State of Israel, Skoog said. This “does not constitute a boycott,” he said.
“Implementing Resolution 2334 is not a matter of taking sides. Sweden has a long standing friendship with the people of Israel and Palestine,” Skoog said.
“This is about making sure that the objective of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security with Jerusalem as the future capital of both states, is kept within reach,” he said.
Israel has long insisted that settlement building is not a stumbling block to peace. Netanyahu has promised to build everywhere in Judea and Samaria, particularly in light of the Trump’s more sympathetic view toward settlement construction.
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