The number of approvals for home construction plans in the settlements leaped in 2012 compared with the two previous years, says the Israeli non-governmental organization Peace Now.
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Building plans for 6,676 residential units were approved in 2012, the vast majority in settlements east of the fence. This represents a huge increase from 1,607 housing units approved for construction in 2011 and the several hundred housing units approved in 2010.
Among the housing construction plans approved were 3,500 residential units intended for the E-1 corridor, 523 for the new settlement of Gevaot and more than 500 in Itamar.
Construction began on 1,747 new housing units in West Bank settlements last year, the Peace Now report also says. More than a third of the construction in the settlements was east of the West Bank separation fence, according to the Peace Now report.
Four new outposts went up in 2012: Nahlei Tal near the Palestinian city of Ramallah, Tzofin Tzafon (Tzofin North) near the Palestinian city of Qalqilyah, Nahalat Yosef near Nablus and Hill 573 as part of an expansion of the Itamar settlement.
Altogether, 317 new housing units were built in settlement outposts without building permits, which is against the law.
The Council of Jewish Settlements in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District (commonly known as the "Yesha Council") that represents Jewish settlers in the West Bank commented that Peace Now's efforts to halt settlement activity has proven ineffective.
"We welcome Peace Now's settlement documentation project," stated Yigal Dilmoni, the council's deputy director. "There is a warm place in our hearts set aside for Peace Now. Following the cases they and other leftist organizations filed with the High Court of Justice, building plans were approved and moved forward for neighborhoods and settlements throughout Judea and Samaria."