Settlement-building ‘nearly doubles’
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Construction in West Bank settlements nearly doubled in the first half of this year compared to 2008, according to new figures from Peace Now.
The pressure group's report emphasised that much of this new building connected isolated settlements in the heart of the West Bank to bigger settlements' blocs. "The creation of a territorial continuity means that Israel unilaterally ‘moves' the Green Line far into the heart of the West Bank," said its author, Hagit Ofran.
"This is a breach of Israel's commitments under the Road Map and in Annapolis, and it might have a lethal effect on the peace process."
According to the report, based on Central Bureau of Statistics data and on Peace Now field research, approximately 55 per cent of new construction is to the east of the separation barrier.
Between January and May 2008, the Housing and Construction Ministry built 433 new housing units, which, the report claimed, made up 64 per cent of the settlement construction.
Ms Ofran estimated that about 10,000 people will be housed in 2,600 housing units built this year.
Danny Dayan, the chairman of the Yesha council, the settler umbrella body, told the JC that he was "certainly happy that the construction in Judea and Samaria continues, in spite of all the obstacles set to us by the government".
Mr Dayan confirmed that there was a clear growth of building in the settlements, and said: "I hope that in 2008 the growth in Jewish population in the West Bank will exceed by 5-6 per cent that of last year's."
A Ministry of Housing spokesman said that the ministry "continues to strengthen the settlement blocs".