Work on new apartment units in Judea and Samaria dropped sharply in the first quarter of 2009, down 39 percent compared to the first quarter of 2008, according to numbers released Sunday by the Central Bureau of Statistics. Overall, the number of new apartment unit starts decreased country-wide by 9%, but that number was much larger in Judea and Samaria. In the first quarter of 2008, work was begun on 560 new apartment units, compared to 342 in that same period this year. Although the information about new housing starts in the settlements was released days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Israel to freeze all settlement construction, the drop is not related to that demand. It reflects construction work done from January to March, when former prime minister Ehud Olmert was still in office. Nor is it unusual for the number of housing starts to dip to such an extent. In the first quarter of 2007, for example, there were only 268 housing starts in Judea and Samaria. The number then rose by 109% in 2008. When it comes to the number of completed apartments in Judea and Samaria in the first quarter of 2009, there was a 6% drop compared to that same period in 2008, as the number fell from 467 apartment units to 439. In 2008, however, the number of completed apartments in the settlements rose by 9% from 2007, going from 428 to 467 units. Nationwide, the number of finished apartments rose by 3% in the first quarter of 2009. Overall in 2008, 1,591 new apartment units were completed in Judea and Samaria and work was begun on 2,117 units.