Peace Now’s annual construction report reveals a 34% increase in construction starts throughout the West Bank during 2016, in comparison to same period in 2015. During 2016 the expansion of settlements occurred through a variety of methods, including the construction of housing units and public structures – legal and illegal – the construction of a new bypass road, the approval of a new settlement, the establishment of two illegal outpost, the declaration of “state lands” and expansion of municipal jurisdictions.
The trends of 2016 illustrates that while Netanyahu attempts to illustrate restraint in order to save face among the international community, on the ground construction is not only ongoing but also increasing, mainly in the most problematic areas for a future agreement. If the Israeli government is interested in a two-state solution, it must seize acting unilaterally in a way that makes the solution much more difficult to achieve.
- 1,814 New housing units began construction, an increase of 34% to a parallel time period in the previous year (1,350 housing units).*
- Nearly 70% (1,263 housing units) of the new construction was in settlements east of the proposed Geneva Initiative border, i.e. settlements that are likely to be evicted in a two states agreement.
- Over 26% (474 housing units) of the new construction was in areas that are east of the route of the separation barrier.
- 6% (114 housing units) of the construction was in illegal outposts.
- At least 10% (183 housing units) of the construction was illegal according to the Israeli laws applied in the occupied territories.
- The vast majority of the new construction, almost 94% (1,700 housing units), was for permanent structures, while that the remainder 6% (114 housing units) were new housing units in the shape of mobile homes both in outposts and in settlements.
- 42 new public buildings (such as schools, synagogues etc.) started to be built, alongside 23 structures for industry or agriculture.
Advancement of Plans (Jan-Dec 2016)
- 2,657 Housing units were advanced through promotions of plans for settlements.
- Almost 60% (1,540 housing units) of the units were east of the proposed Geneva Initiative border.
- Nearly 40% (1,026 housing units) of the units were east of the route of the separation barrier.
- 580 housing units were published for validation (final approval of a plan). Of those, nearly 75% (432 housing units) were east of the border proposed by the Geneva Initiative and over 50% (293 housing units) were east of the route of the separation barrier.
- Tenders were published for 365 housing units, of which 323 in East Jerusalem and 42 in West Bank settlements (in Kiryat Arba settlement).
Further Significant Settlement Developments in 2016:
- Two new outposts were established in the north part of the Jordan Valley.
- Construction of a new road to bypass the Palestinian village of a-Nabi Eliyas (near Qalqiliya) began on lands confiscated from Palestinians.
- 2,342 dunams were declared as “state lands” south of Jericho.
- The Gush Etzion municipality’s jurisdiction was extended in order to include a new settlement site, “Beit Al-Baraka”, located apposite of Al-Aroub Refugee Camp.
- Advancement of a new settlement, Shvut Rachel East, under the pretence of a neighbourhood, deep in the West Bank.
- A new industrial area, west of Ramallah, and close to the Green Line, was approved.
* The timeframe of the 2016 report refers to a 9 months period, between September 2015 and June 2016. In order to compare the construction starts to the 2015 report, which was for a 12 month period, we used ¾ of the total figure (1,800)