Today the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics released the construction numbers for year 2010. The data reveals that during the moratorium on settlement construction, the settlers began building at least 114 new housing units, and completed the construction of 1,175 additional units, which were started before the moratorium. The report also exposes that in the last three months of 2010, immediately after the moratorium, work began on 427 new housing units, whereas in all of the first 9 months of 2010 only 114 units were started.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) itself, the data it provides regarding construction in the settlements is always partial, for a number of reasons:
The CBS doesn’t conduct on-site surveys, but relies on reports of construction permits sent in by the local municipalities. The municipalities in the West Bank settlements fail to report the construction in a satisfying manner and the CBS has to make do with partial data “because of the low quality of data coming in from some of the settlements” (see CBS definitions, p. 8 [in Hebrew]).
CBS numbers do not include illegal construction and trailers – “the construction data does not include trailers, mobile homes . . . outposts in the West Bank, construction that was not reported to the CBS in the form of construction permits, illegal construction for residential purposes that was not mentioned in the Ministry of the Interior reports” (see CBS definitions, p.10 [in Hebrew]).
The CBS data always continues to be updated after the first publication. Thus the last CBS release, dating from three months ago, reported that in the first 9 months of 2010 work began on only 50 housing units in the West Bank, whereas the current report claims that the number is actually 114 new units for the same period. This means that the data’s percent error can be up to 100% and more - so if today’s release reports a total of 541 unit constructions which started in 2010, it is likely that in the next report the number will be updated and rise up to beyond a 1,000.
Peace Now conducted an on-site construction survey, and with the assistance of aerial photos established that in the four months since the end of the moratorium (October 2010 to February 2011) work began on 1,756 new housing units. This number includes illegal construction as well as hundreds of housing units that had not yet been reported to the CBS by the local municipalities.