Netanyahu may approve last burst of settler housing plans prior to Biden

The number rises to 12,159 if one includes the advancement of 3,196 homes this year in the highly contentious E1 section of the Ma'aleh Adumim settlement.

A view of the West Bank (photo credit: YANIV NADAV/FLASH90)
A view of the West Bank
(photo credit: YANIV NADAV/FLASH90)
The Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria may approve plans for a large number of settler homes prior to US President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration set for January 20.
Kan News first reported the possibility, which settlers have told The Jerusalem Post is likely. The Civil Administration said that no date has been set yet for such a meeting, but according to settlers, it could be as early as Thursday.
President Donald Trump did not oppose Israeli settlement activity, which his administration took steps to legitimize. But the four-year hiatus, during which such activity has not created friction between Jerusalem and Washington, is about to end.
No agenda has been published for the meeting, so it is unclear how many projects would be approved, but typically such meetings lead to the advancement of thousands of units.
Already this year, plans have been advanced for 8,963 units, more than in any year in over eight years, according to data provided by the left-wing group Peace Now.
The number rises to 12,159 if one includes the advancement of 3,196 homes this year in the highly contentious E1 section of the Ma'aleh Adumim settlement.
Should the Higher Planning Council meet prior to the end of the calendar year, the additional advancement of settler housing projects would make 2020 a banner year for settlement development.
Last year, according to Peace Now, some 8,457 settlement units were advanced, in addition to 5,618 in 2018 and 6,742 in 2017.
All total, to date under the four years of the Trump Administration, plans have been advanced or approved for 29,780 settler homes. That number rises to 32,976.
This is at least a 154% increase over the last four years of the Obama administration from 2013-2016, when plans for 11,758 settler homes were advanced. Add in E1 and it reflects a 180% increase.
The story reverses itself when it comes to ground broken for new settler homes, however, with the number of those starts higher under Obama than under Trump.
This is in part due to COVID-19. According to data from Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, there was a 52% decrease in the number of settler housing starts in the first three quarters of this year, compared to the same period last year. Ground was broken for only 617 settler homes from January to September, compared with the first nine months of 2019, when there were 1,306 starts.
But the numbers were down even prior to COVID. 
In the first three years of the Trump administration, ground was broken for 5,726 settler homes, compared to 6,592 during the first three years of former US president Barack Obama's second term, from 2013-2015. This represents a 13% drop from Obama to Trump.
Overall, ground was broken for 9,868 settler homes during Obama's second term. Not all the data has been calculated for Trump's four years, but its already clear that there were less housing starts. To date, one can calculate that ground was broken for 6,343 homes during the four years of the Trump Administration.  The only data missing are those of the last quarter of this year, from October-December.
When it comes to the number of completed settler homes, there was a 12% increase, when comparing the first three years of Obama, with those of Trump. There were 5,209 finished settler homes from 2013-2015, compared with 5,581 from 2017-2019. 
To date, there have been 7,264 finished settler homes under Trump, compared to 7,131 under Obama, and that number of finished homes under Trump is likely to increase once the data is compiled for the fourth quarter of 2020.