Israel ongoing building in the West Bank makes freeze “meaningless”
According to a report by Peace Now, an Israeli peace movement, 2,000 housing units are currently under construction in the occupied Palestinian territory. At least 492 are illegal. In November 2009, Israel had accepted a construction freeze on its West Bank settlements, but the report now raises serious doubts about Israel’s good “intentions regarding the moratorium”.
Tel Aviv (AsiaNews/Peace Now) – The ten months since Israel announced its moratorium on settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories in November 2009 have been a waste and meaningless, this according to a report released on Monday by Israel’s Peace Now, a movement founded in 1978 to promote peace between Israel and Palestine and the two-state solution.

The report indicates that the settlement moratorium, supposedly without exceptions or loopholes, was a farce and that the Government of Israel is not upholding the moratorium.

Based on its analysis, Peace Now found that about 2,000 new housing units are presently under construction in the settlements, and that most were started before the freeze.

However, at least 600 new housing units were started during the moratorium and that at least 462 new housing units have been built illegally in violation of the freeze. Of these, 31 are caravans and 7 are permanent structures, built in outposts that not only violate the settlement freeze but also violate Israel’s own planning and construction laws.

Over the course of the last decade, on average 1,700 new housing units were built each year in the settlements, this according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, which do not include illegal construction.

Now an estimated 603 new units have been built. This shows an almost 50 per cent drop in annual total. However for Peace Now, “there should have been no new construction starts whatsoever.”

Last year, Israel allowed at least 693 structures whose construction began before the freeze. Therefore, “only if the freeze continues will it have a meaningful effect on the ground.  Restarting construction will render the 10-month freeze insignificant.

“The fact that the Government of Israel approved an unusually large amount of settlement construction just before the moratorium was implemented, and then insisted that this construction be exempted from the moratorium, cast doubt from the start on the seriousness of the GOI’s intentions regarding the moratorium from the start,” the report said.

We believe that it must be extended with no more game-playing.  [. . . .] Otherwise, the entire debate over whether or not to impose the moratorium or whether or not to extend it is little more than an empty words.