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West Bank Settlement Housing Starts Rise by 40%

The number of new housing starts in Jewish settlements in the West Bank rose by 40 percent last year, the activist group Peace Now said.

Some 68 percent of the new construction is in settlements that are outside the blocs Israel likely will keep in any future peace deal, Peace Now said in its report issued Monday.

The group’s figures are higher than the estimates from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, which according to Peace Now does not include illegal construction and relies on reports from local authorities. The Israeli government as of Tuesday evening had not commented on the Peace Now report.

According to Peace Now, the 2014 construction in the settlements included 3,100 residential units, including 2,671 permanent structures. Some 287 of the units, or 9 percent, were built in illegal settlement outposts, the group wrote.

In addition, 165 public buildings were erected, such as kindergartens, educational institutions and synagogues, and 92 industrial and agricultural structures were built. Tenders for 4,485 residential units were published in 2014, up from up from 3,710 in 2013 and 1,774 in 2010.

In addition to those tenders, on Jan. 30, tenders for another 450 units in the West Bank were issued, Peace Now said. Those units had been proposed in tenders but were not sold and were never built.

“Tender publication (some repeated tenders) eventually halted the (Israeli-Palestinian peace) negotiations and led Secretary of State John Kerry to withdraw his efforts,” the report said.

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