Settlers Deny Report of Stoppage in Housing Sales in Territories

The Jewish settlement leadership has denied a report that sales of new homes in the territories are at a virtual standstill since the new government imposed a partial building freeze there.

The Judea, Samaria and Gaza Council asserted Wednesday that 296 dwelling units had been sold since July 20, the day the Rabin government announced its curbs on new building.

It listed 38 homes in Betar, 31 in Efrat, 42 in Maale Adumim, 41 in Eli and smaller numbers in various other settlements.

The statement followed a newspaper report Wednesday citing unnamed Housing Ministry officials as saying only two units had been sold in the territories in the past month.

The Yediot Aharonot report said building work was going ahead on the 11,000-odd units not covered by the government’s freeze, but that in practice they would stand empty for want of purchasers.

The ministry later issued a statement corroborating the Yediot report. “In effect, there is a total stoppage of sales” in the territories, the statement said.

In a report Thursday, Yediot quoted an unnamed government housing official as saying the Judea, Samaria and Gaza Council statement might be referring to sales made before the new government came to power in mid-July.

In any event, building contractors were reporting no new sales, the source said.

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