Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would have no need to order a second freeze on
new settler homes in the West Bank, because a de facto one already exists,
according to Central Bureau of Statistics data published on Wednesday.
were just as few settler housing starts in the third quarter of this year as
there were during the same period in 2010, when the government imposed a
moratorium on such activity.
Work began on 105 settler homes between July
and September of this year, compared with the 113 starts in the same months in
2010, the CBS said.
Although the 2011 figure is likely to climb slightly
in upcoming reports as data is adjusted, it is unlikely to grow
The 105 figure marks a 65 percent drop in construction
from the second quarter, when there were 302 housing starts. There were 305
settler housing starts in the first quarter of this year.
there was a 60% drop in the number of West Bank Jewish homes completed in the in
the third quarter, to 179, down from 447 in the second quarter, according to the
That’s a 53% drop when compared with the 382 settler homes that were
completed in the third quarter of last year.
Hagit Ofran of Peace Now
said she could not explain the sharp drop in the CBS numbers.
field, the numbers are dramatically higher,” Ofran said.
In compiling its
own data, Peace Now relies on its field-work as well as aerial
The CBS data is incomplete, Ofran said, because it relies
heavily on self-reported information from the settlement regional councils or
But the CBS said that it also draws data from the
Construction and Housing Ministry and the Interior Ministry. When it comes to
private construction, it also makes use of data from contractors.
Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the
Gaza Strip, said, however, that the data did not surprise him.
enough new housing approvals have been granted,” he said. The pipeline of
approvals from past governments is getting dryer and dryer.”
has long warned of a de facto freeze and has repeatedly called on Netanyahu to
issue building permits.
The National Union has tried to advance
legislation to mandate such construction in some of the larger
Shmuel Levy, who heads the Association of Building and
Infrastructure Contractors of the Jerusalem area, echoed Dayan’s
“It’s as if there was a freeze,” Levy said. The government
has bowed to American pressure and is not issuing new permits, and as a result,
there is little new construction, he said.
Since the 10-month moratorium
on housing starts ended on September 26, 2010, approvals have been given for 200
new homes in Mod’in Illit and 294 new ones in Betar Illit, but it is unclear if
the projects have received all the authorizations necessary for work to
Tenders were also issued in the past few weeks for 277 homes in
Ariel, 277 in Efrat and 40 in Ma’aleh Adumim.
But none of these approvals
have yet had an effect on the ground.
The previous moratorium makes it
difficult to compare 2011 with 2010.
During the first three quarters of
2010, exceptions were made to the moratorium that allowed for foundations to be
laid for 188 homes.
There has been a 278% jump, to 712 housing starts, in
the first three quarters of this year, But that is a drop of 37% when compared
with the 1,137 settler housing starts in the first three quarters of 2009, when,
like this year, no freeze was in place.
When it comes to completed homes,
even with the steep drop in numbers between the second and third quarter,
overall there is no real difference between the 1,364 homes finished in the
first nine months of this year, compared with the 1,349 units completed in the
same period in 2010.
The moratorium did not affect homes for which
foundations had already been laid, and thus building on those units, was allowed
to continue as normal in 2010.
In the 12 months since the moratorium
expired, from October 2010 until the end of September 2011, foundations have
been laid for 1,274 new settler homes.
In that same period, 1,684 homes
Looking back over the past five years, there were 1,518
settler housing starts in 2006, 1,471 in 2007, 2,324 in 2008, 1,962 in 2009 and
676 in 2010. The bulk of new construction last year, 488 units, occurred in the
last quarter, after the 10-month moratorium.
In the past five years,
2,167 homes were completed in 2006, 1,747 in 2007, 1,601 in 2008, 2,063 in 2009,
and 1,669 in 2010.