Settlement Activities up by 40% in 2014, says Peace Now

JERUSALEM, February 24, 2015 (WAFA) – A substantial increase in Israeli settlement construction activities – planning and tenders – was witnessed in the year 2014, according to a recent report published by Peace Now, an Israeli human rights group.

It said most of that increase was observed in isolated settlements and the most disputed areas in terms of the chance for two states, Palestine and Israel.

While it monitored a 40% increase in construction activities, 68% of that was witnessed in settlements east of the outline proposed by the Geneva Initiative; the areas most challenging for the two-state solution.

Tenders for 4,485 residential units were published in 2014 alone, says Peace Now, while the third Netanyahu government promoted an average of 460 residential units per month, mainly in isolated settlements, double the number promoted by the previous government.

In 2014 construction of 3,100 residential units began in the settlements; 2,671 permanent structures and 429 caravans and light construction structures.

In addition, 165 public buildings (kindergartens, educational institutions, synagogues, etc.) and 92 industrial and agricultural structures were built.

A total of 9% of the construction – 287 residential units – occurred in the illegal outposts, while the number of settlers therein, according to Peace Now estimates, consists of only 4% of all settlers.

This demonstrates an increase of 40% compared to the respective period in 2013.

The year 2014, according to the group, was a record year in tender publication, for at least a decade. “Tender publication eventually halted the negotiations and led Secretary of State John Kerry to withdraw his efforts.”

The current Netanyahu government nearly tripled the average number of tenders as compared to the previous Netanyahu government,” said Peace Now.

The Netanyahu government continued the previous government’s trend of promoting plans throughout the West Bank.  During its 22 months in office thus far (18 March 2013 – January 2015), at least 66 plans were promoted for 10,113 different residential units in 41 settlements (monthly average of 460 residential units).

Peace Now said that during the 47.5 months of the previous Netanyahu government (31 March 2009 – 17 March 2013), at least 89 plans were promoted for 11,193 different residential units in 50 settlements (monthly average of 235 residential units).

“In all, both Netanyahu governments, 31 March 2009 – January 2015, promoted at least 106 construction plans for 13,077 different residential units in 57 settlements.”

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling upon the international community to intervene and protect the two-state solution, as well as to take real steps to compel Israel to stop its settlement activities.