Today the Israeli Peace Now movement issued a report documenting a surge in settlement construction during the first half of 2013. The report contradicts the popular narrative that settlement construction in the West Bank slowed during the run-up to the re-start of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
In reality, the period of January-June 2013 saw a huge increase in construction compared to the same period in 2012. The details of the report are summarized below. The full report is available here.
Commenting on the report, Peace Now stated: "The Government of Netanyahu continues to build in settlements and to make it harder to reach a peace agreement. Anyone who cares about Israel and the success of the current efforts to resume the negotiations for a two state solution must be very concerned about the ongoing construction in settlements."
APN President and CEO Debra DeLee added: "Today, it is not only peace talks that stand in the balance, but also Israel's survival as a democracy and a Jewish state. We strongly support negotiations to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and believe President Abbas deserves credit for remaining in talks, despite settlement-related provocations - both in terms of the ongoing trends highlighted in the latest Peace Now report, and in terms of the flood of settlement announcements that accompanied the start of talks this summer - that almost seem designed to force them to walk away.
"In this context, we urge the Obama Administration and the international community, as part of its support for Israel and for peace, to not permit the Netanyahu government to continue to exploit and abuse the negotiations process to create even more facts on the ground that are anathema to the very goal of these negotiations: achieving a two-state agreement that ends the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
1. New Settlement Units - Starts
- There was a 70% increase in construction starts (the start of new units) in settlements compared to the same period in 2013.
- In terms of the number of units, construction was started on 1,708 new units in settlements during the first 6 months of 2013. Assuming a family size of 5, this will mean housing for an estimated 3,540 new settlers.
- More than 10% (180) of these new units were located in illegal outposts.
- 44% of the construction starts (759 units) were east of the planned route of the separation fence. 32% (542 units) were west of Israel's separation barrier. 24% (407 units) were located in the area that is located between the planned route of the separation barrier and the barrier as currently constructed. A map showing the location of all this construction is available here.
- 61% of the construction starts (1,040 units) were in isolated settlements (east of the border proposed by the Geneva Initiative).
- In addition to the 1,708 starts, construction was started in settlements for 180 public buildings (schools, synagogues, kindergartens and so on), as well as 74 industrial or agricultural buildings.
- At least 86% of the construction (1,469 units) was carried out without tenders, in settlements where tenders are not required before construction. In this way, the "tender moratorium" declared by the Israeli government (which ended in July 2013, with the spike of settlement announcements linked to the release of Palestinian prisoners) was not a general construction freeze, but only a freeze on a small portion of settlement construction.
2. New Settlement Units - Under Construction
- In total, during the first half of 2013, construction was ongoing for a 2,840 units in settlements.
- Assuming a family size of 5, this will mean housing for an estimated 14,200 new settlers.
3. New Settlement Units - Completions
- During the first 6 months of 2013, construction was completed on 1,794 new settlement units (this number is part of the 2,840 discussed above). Assuming a family size of 5, this means housing for an estimated 8,970 new settlers.
4. Summer 2013
- The two tenders published last summer (in addition to those in East Jerusalem) were for settlements located in the areas that will be most problematic for any agreement - Efrat and Ariel.