Peace Now: West Bank settlement construction nearly doubled this year
Group says over 2,600 housing units being built, with over half of them going up east of separation fence.
More than 2,600 housing units are under construction in West Bank settlements, including units in more than 1,000 new buildings, Peace Now contends in its semi-annual report.
Basing its conclusions on aerial photographs and field visits, the organization says that slightly more than half of the new structures are going up east of the separation fence, and in several places construction is encroaching on the boundaries of Palestinian towns, such as Ramallah and Bethlehem.
National Bureau of Statistics data shows that construction in settlements jumped from 240 housing units between January and May 2007 to 433 housing units during the same period this year. Housing and Construction Ministry projects account for 64 percent of all building starts cataloged.
Peace Now reports an increase of 550 percent in the number of tenders for construction in the settlements: 417 housing units compared to just 65 in 2007; 125 new buildings at outposts, including 30 permanent structures.
The report also addresses construction over the Green Line within Jerusalem's municipal boundaries, an area in which 200,000 Jews now live. East Jerusalem saw an increase in tenders for construction of housing units to 46 this year, from 38 during January-May 2007.
The upshot of its latest report, says Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer, is that "Israel is erasing the Green Line through intensive construction intended to create territorial continuity between settlement blocs and isolated settlements in the heart of the West Bank, with this construction approaching Palestinian cities such as Bethlehem and Ramallah."