Israel Broke Ground on 1,800 Settlement Homes in 2015, Peace Now Says

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Palestinian construction workers in the West Bank settlement of Susya, in 2014.
Palestinian construction workers in the West Bank settlement of Susya, in 2014.Credit: Reuters

Israel authorized 350 new housing units and broke ground on around 1,800 homes in West Bank settlements last year, Peace Now said in a report released Sunday.

For a year and a half, urban planning in the settlements has been frozen and nearly no new construction has been approved. However, nothing bars local government from using existing construction plans. In the absence of new plans, efforts have been heightened to make good on existing plans.

According to the Peace Now group, 15 percent of construction last year, or 265 housing units, was done in unauthorized settlement outposts. Only a tiny fraction is being carried out with the participation of the defense establishment’s Civil Administration (the ultimate civil authority in the West Bank settlements).

In 2012, the state committed to setting up a criminal-complaint mechanism regarding building in the settlements, but the launching process is mired in bureaucracy.

Last year, construction included 1,550 permanent housing units and 250 prefab homes. Also, work began to prepare land for another 700 housing units.

In Kochav Ya’akov near Ramallah, for example, construction has begun on 105 units. In Immanuel, the number is 37 units, with lots being prepared for another 100 units. In Ariel, there are 133 such units and another 27 in Karnei Shomron.

In addition, three more outposts have been authorized, amid the announcement that several others will be authorized. “The government’s message to the settlers is ‘Carry out illegal construction and we will approve it retroactively,’” Peace Now wrote.

“The Netanyahu government claims that the plans receiving approval are plans that don’t add new construction and are therefore not important. But in practice this policy of retroactive approval of plans empties the planning process of meaning. The government’s message to the settlers is that in practice, there is no need for planning and advance approval of plans, as ultimately the construction will be approved after the fact.”

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