123% Increase in Construction Starts in 2013

Today, the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics released their summary of construction in 2013. The increase in construction starts confirms what Peace Now has been reporting throughout 2013, massive increases in construction in the West Bank. Overall, there was a 123% increase in construction starts in 2013.

The CBS reports that in 2013 construction began on 2,534 housing units. Compared to 2012, which had 1,133 units that began construction.  Furthermore, approximately half of the units (1,161) which began construction were for public buildings. In 2012 there were only 113 units for public buildings that began construction.

Peace Now: "It's official, the Netanyahu government is committed to only one thing: building settlements. It shows the lack of commitment to negotiations and other issues like the housing shortage inside Israel. The state has focused its resources on construction beyond the green line." 
 
To view the CBS report click here

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Is a Settlement Boycott Best for Israel? APN's Lara Friedman in the New York Times

A powerful debate between APN's Lara Friedman and Rabbi Daniel Gordis in the New York Times.

Introduction

Israel’s expansion of settlements in the occupied territories has been an obstacle to the two-state solution, considered the most likely hope for peace with the Palestinians.

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Steven Kaplan and Sanford Weiner in the Jewish Journal: A victory against anti-Israel BDS

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Israelis and supporters of Israel are increasingly concerned about international pressure — and with good reason. There was last year’s directive from the European Union, which threatened important Israel-EU cooperation; the recent uproar about SodaStream, which brought Israel unflattering media attention; and the almost daily news of some European country singling out an Israeli company for negative treatment.

Are these victories for the global BDS movement — the movement calling on people and nations to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel? Absolutely not. 

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SodaStream, an Israeli company with a production facility in a West Bank settlement, made headlines recently due to the superstar status of its spokeswoman, Scarlett Johansson. But the real stars of the Israeli business community are those who joined with their Palestinian counterparts in an effort to use their economic heft to urge political leaders to achieve a two-state solution as soon as possible.

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A flawed but compelling narrative has taken root in the debate over SodaStream. It's the story of the politically moderate Israeli businessman building bridges to peace by providing Palestinians good employment. What could be the problem with that?

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APN CEO Debra DeLee in The Forward: Love Israel. Oppose BDS. Reject SodaStream.

As counterintuitive as it may be, when you see Scarlett Johansson’s Super Bowl ad on Sunday, promoting a product that lets you make carbonated drinks at home, try to see through bubbles and think about the future of the Middle East.

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APN's Mark Silverberg - Cleveland Jewish News: Proposed new Iran sanctions all wrong

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As an American supporter of Israel, I am strongly against the Iran sanctions legislation recently introduced by U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican. I deeply hope that Senate leaders will not move this ill-timed and highly problematic legislation forward.

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APN's Ori Nir in The New Jersey Jewish News: Doubters miss the meat in Kerry's mission

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Israel-Palestine pundits often seem to compete over who will be more skeptical, if not dismissive, of new diplomatic initiatives. Given past peace-making failures, they know that predictions of failure are their best bets.

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APN's Lara Friedman at The Huffington Post - Thwarting Iran Diplomacy: Not Good for the Jews

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Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer got it wrong when they laid blame for the Iraq War on the "Israel Lobby" (in their book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy). However, a war with Iran could be a different story. As I warned back in March 2012, a much clearer line can be drawn between the efforts of U.S. Jewish groups and hawkish Iran policies. "For more than a decade," I wrote, "the same forces that Walt and Mearsheimer erroneously blamed for America's Iraq debacle have openly led efforts to convince Washington and the American people that war with Iran is necessary and inevitable."

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Yariv Oppenheimer: The Truth Behind the Jordan Valley

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Security for Settlers, Not the State of Israel

Analysis by Peace Now's Director General, Yariv Oppenheimer

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