Peace Now: Building outside Green Line outpaces that within

Building in W. Bank up

peace now protest 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
peace now protest 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Building within settlements has outpaced construction in the rest of the country, Peace Now executive director Yariv Oppenheimer charged at a Jerusalem press conference on Wednesday. He made the allegation in spite of Central Bureau of Statics data, which showed that new settler construction had dropped by 27.6 percent in the first three quarters of 2009 when compared with only a 3% drop nation wide. Hagit Ofran of Peace Now claimed that in spite of the drop, when it comes to real numbers, more new Jewish homes were built in the West Bank than within the Green Line. She added that construction numbers in Judea and Samaria were particularly high in 2008, so that the drop in 2009 simply reflects a return to the kind of numbers that were seen in 2007. The settler's claims of discrimination have no basis in reality, said Oppenheimer. "In this period settlers are building more," he said, adding that the people who need to be angry at the government are not the settlers but those mayors who head communities within the Green Line. Oppenheimer said his NGO had opened up a hotline where people could report building during the just declared temporary moratorium on new construction. "We will report to the prime minister and the defense minister's office on every violation," said Oppenheimer. He demanded that criminal charges be applied to those who violate building codes. Oppenheimer said his organization planned to publish the information they gather in a database that would be available to the public. Peace Now plans to take ariel photos that will show what exists and what does not, he added. Oppenheimer claimed that the number of new settler homes now under construction in the West Bank is 3,492, a number that is slightly larger than the government's figure of 3,000. This means, he said, that approximately 1,167 new homes are built for every 100,000 settlers. Based on numbers from the Central Bureau of Statistics, he said, 836 new homes are under construction within the Green Line for every 100,000 residents. In Ma'aleh Adumim, Oppenheimer said, 476 homes will be built in the next 10 months. In that same period, 149 homes will be construction in Rosh Ha'ayin, 160 in Kiryat Bialik and 59 in Dimona - all within the Green Line. Ofran charged that in nine settlements, builders had created fake foundations so that they would be excluded from the moratorium which mandates that work on all homes without a foundation must be halted. Those settlements include Adam, Elazar, Modi'in Illit, Oranit, Etz Efrayim, Nerya, Na'ale, Elkana and and Barkan. She said that her information was based on inspection trips Peace Now had made to the settlements. She also said that Peace Now monitors had observed 10 instances of tractors breaking ground in violation of the moratorium. She documented this claim with video footage from Kiryat Arba, Elkana, Sha'arei Tikiva and Elazar. Other settlements where Peace Now says it has observed violations include Oranit, Etz Efrayin, Nerya, Nili, Tekoa and Rosh Zurim. Dani Dayan who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip dismissed the Peace Now claims as inaccurate. He said they had recycled old information to paint an erroneous picture.