2011: No housing starts in 2 largest W. Bank settlements

In first quarter of 2011, Modi’in Illit and Betar Illit suffer an unusual absence of housing starts, initial CBS findings show.

By
June 2, 2011 02:12
3 minute read.
Construction work in Beitar Illit [file].

construction work in beitar illit 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

There were no housing starts in the two largest West Bank settlements – Modi’in Illit and Betar Illit – in the first quarter of 2011, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics released on Wednesday.

The Central Bureau of Statistics told The Jerusalem Post that their quarterly releases reflect initial findings and are often subject to change.

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Still the absence of any housing starts is unusual for the two Jewish towns, which are the largest-growing settlements.

In 2009, housing starts in these two settlements made up 40 percent of all new West Bank Jewish residential construction.

Similarly in the last quarter of 2010, housing starts in these two settlements made up 38% of all such West Bank Jewish building.

The lack of new building in these two settlements contributed to the 47% drop in all West Bank Jewish housing starts from 458 in the last quarter of 2010 to 242 in the first quarter of 2011.

For the last two years, the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip has warned that these two settlements, along with the third-largest West Bank Jewish settlement, Ma’aleh Adumim, and other areas in the settlement blocs, were almost out of permits.

On top of the forced 10-month moratorium on new settlement construction, which lasted from November 26, 2009, until the same date in September 2010, settlers have warned that a silent freeze exists due to the continued absence of permitted construction, particularly in high-growth areas.

The Central Bureau of Statistics numbers “prove our assertion that since the moratorium was removed, a de facto freeze has continued,” said Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

The spokesman for Betar Illit could not be reached and the spokesman for Modi’in Illit said he was not aware of the statistics.

Still, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, active construction continued in Betar Illit and Modi’in Illit and made up 38% of all such West Bank settlement activity in the first quarter of 2011.

In those three months, according to the statistics, building continued on 283 homes in Betar Illit and 397 homes in Modi’in Illit.

During that same period, 115 homes were completed in Betar Illit and 201 in Modi’in Illit, making for 41% of the 772 housing finishes in all of the West Bank.

Hagit Ofran of Peace Now in September had also spoken of the possibility that Betar Illit and Modi’in Illit were out of permits. But Ofran said that it now appears that they were able to continue building and that there was new and ongoing construction in those communities.

She added that she would not have exact figures until her organization received aerial shots that it had commissioned.

Just last month, the Defense Ministry authorized 294 new homes in Betar Illit and in April it approved 200 in Modi’in Illit.

Separately, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, there were 64 housing starts in Ma’aleh Adumim in the first quarter of 2011. In that same period, 104 homes were under active construction and 89 were finished.

Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel has warned that his city is out of permits and that construction there will soon stop. He has received only 40 housing permits since the end of the moratorium.

The Central Bureau of Statistics also noted a drop of 20% in active construction, from 2215 homes in 2010, to 1774 in the first quarter of 2011.

The number of finishes has spiked upwards with the completion of 722 homes in the first quarter compared with 414 at the same time last year.

The hike is even steeper, 127%, when compared with the 318 finishes in the last three months of 2010. The 722 finished homes mark the largest number of completed residential structures in any single quarter going back to 2007.


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