By Noam Sheizaf, 972Mag – 10 June 2013
Despite the 2011 tent protests, house construction has actually decreased over the last year in Israel. At the same time, the West Bank registered a national high in new construction projects for Jewish settlers.
According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, new construction projects in West Bank settlements have grown by 176 percent (!) compared to the same period last year (January-March 2012). This is a 355 percent increase, when compared to the final quarter of 2012 (October-December).
Currently, construction projects for Jews in the West Bank make up eight percent of all construction projects in Israel (not including those run by the Palestinian Authority).
The numbers refer only to legal projects and not to unregulated projects in the so-called “outposts.” Furthermore, construction projects in annexed East Jerusalem are left out are are counted separately. Construction projects in Jerusalem as a whole make up 13 percent of the national figure, and since the city cannot be developed to the west, at least some of the new projects are done beyond the Green Line.
Despite the real estate crisis and the public protest, new construction projects in Israel actually decreased by 8.9 percent during the same period. These figures can help explain the attractiveness of settling in the occupied territories for many Jews.
Peace Now, which does the most extensive work on monitoring settlement growth, issued the following response:
These findings provide further evidence of a continuing government policy to prioritize settlement expansion, at the behest of settler interests and at the expense of the majority of Israeli citizens. Settler populations comprise of a mere 4% of the population, yet received a 176% increase in construction starts, while the other 96% of Israeli citizens received an 8.9% decrease in construction starts.