A report prepared and published by the Israeli Peace Now group revealed that Israel is currently constructing 2600 homes for settlers in 1000 buildings in several settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The report indicated that 55% of these units are being constructed in the eastern side of the Annexation Wall, and that they are being built close to Palestinian cities, including Ramallah and Bethlehem.
Also, the Central Bureau of Statistics in Israel reported that construction in Israeli settlements had significantly increased by a factor of 1.8 comparing to last year.
The Israeli Housing Ministry initiated 433 new housing units for Israeli settlers in the period between January and May 2008. This is compared to 240 housing units during the period between January – May 2007 (Israel also added 125 houses to settlement outposts in the West Bank; this includes 30% permanent houses), Peace Now said.
The bureau added that nearly 64% of the constructions conducted by the Israeli Housing Ministry are settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The Peace Now report also revealed that Israel significantly increased the construction of settlements units in the Jerusalem area, and that there are currently 200.000 settlers living around the city. Israel released bids for the construction on 1761 settler homes this year comparing to 46 bids in 2007.
According to the report, Israel is accelerating the construction process in several West Bank settlements, including isolated ones, in order to create geographical contiguity between them and to encircle the Palestinian cities and villages.
Peace Now added that the number of tenders for settlement construction had increased by 550% in 2008. In simple figures, Israel built 65 units in 2007 comparing to 417 in 2008.
The Jerusalem area witnesses an increase factor of 38 (1.761 housing units for settlers) compared to 46 in 2007.
Peace Now also said that Israel is eliminating the Green Line which separates between Israel and the Palestinian territories. Eliminating the Green Line comes to create a territorial contiguity between the Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, and this means more isolation and separation between the Palestinian cities and villages.
“It seems that the government of Israel repeats the mistakes of the past, by on the
one hand negotiating an agreement with the Palestinians and in parallel constructing
in the settlements. This construction undermines the Palestinian partners and
creating facts on the ground that might prevent the possibility of a peace agreement”, Peace Now.
Click for the full Peace Now report with comparison images and tables