CBS: Settler housing starts low, finishes high

Few West Bank construction projects began, but many completed in early 2011, opposing speculation about a construction boom.

By
September 2, 2011 01:07
4 minute read.
Apartment construction in Givat Ze'ev

Givat Ze'ev construction 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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Housing starts in the settlements for the first half of 2011 were low when compared to previous years, but the number of finishes was high, according to data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.

The CBS data continues to run counter to speculation by the media and left-wing activists that there would be a boom in new Jewish West Bank construction in the aftermath of the 10-month moratorium on such activity that ended on September 26, 2010.

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Due to the moratorium, it is difficult to compare activity from 2011 and 2010.

But the 281 housing starts in the second quarter of 2011 represent a 42 percent drop from the last quarter of 2010, which is the only complete quarter in that year in which new settlement construction took place without any moratorium restrictions.

That is almost the same as the 285 housing starts in the first quarter of 2011.

The total of 566 settler housing starts in the first half of 2011 represents a 16% drop when compared to the 713 starts in the same period in 2009, a 44% decrease when compared with the 1,015 starts in 2008 and a 21% drop when compared with the 713 starts in the first half of 2007.

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Part of the drop in 2011 came from the absence of construction in two of the largest settlements: Modi’in Illit and Betar Illit.

In 2009, housing starts in these two haredi communities accounted for 40% of all new Jewish residential construction in Judea and Samaria. Similarly, in the last quarter of 2010, housing starts in these two settlements made up 38% of all such building.

But in the first half of 2011, the CBS registered only 3 housing starts a piece in the two towns.

In contrast, homes in these two settlements made up 50% of all such housing starts in the first half of 2011.

It is expected, however, that the number of new units in the West Bank could soon rise, particularly given the approvals of 294 new units in Betar Illit, 277 in Ariel and 100 in Beit Aryeh.

Hagit Ofran of Peace Now attacked the CBS report as inaccurate and said her organization was compiling contrary data.

“According to a ground survey that Peace Now is currently conducting in the settlements, construction is much higher than what was reported in the CBS,” Ofran said.

But Dani Dayan, chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said there was little new construction these days in Judea and Samaria.

“The absolute number of construction projects in Judea and Samaria is outrageously low and that is the result of the erroneous governmental policy,” he said.

“[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu’s government should change completely its policy regarding new housing in Yesha [Judea and Samaria].

The western slopes of the Samarian Hills as the area surrounding Jerusalem north, east and south are Israel’s exclusive reservoir of lands suitable to build near the metropolitan centers of the country. This will benefit Israel’s future in the political area as well as in the social area, bringing more security along affordable prices,” he said.

Overall, there were 665 such housing starts in 2010, out of which 33 were in the first quarter and 39 in the second quarter during the moratorium on such activity.

There were 111 home starts in the third quarter after the moratorium ended and 482 in the fourth quarter.

There were 1,962 housing starts in 2009, 2,324 in 2008 and 1,471 in 2007.

Separately, according to the CBS, there was a 40% drop in the number of finished settler homes (442) in the second quarter of 2011 from the 738 that were completed in the first quarter of the year.

But that 738 was an unusually high figure. As a result, when one combines the two figures, the 1,180 finished settler homes in the first half of 2011 is 22% higher than the 967 homes completed in the same period in 2010, 34% higher than the 878 homes finished in the first half of 2009, and 26% higher than the 932 homes finished in that same period in 2008.

Since the moratorium did not affect completed homes, and construction was allowed to continue on 3,000 units that already had foundations when the moratorium began, it is possible to compare figures from the first half of 2011 with the same period in 2010 when it comes to completed structures.

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