JERUSALEM (JTA) — New housing starts in the West Bank rose by more than 120 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year, according to official Israeli data.
Approved work began on 2,534 new West Bank homes and apartments in 2013, compared to 1,133 in 2012, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported in new data released on Monday. Some 1,710 were in apartment buildings in the larger West Bank settlements, and 824 were single-family homes in smaller settlements.
The same data shows a 19 percent drop in housing starts in the Tel Aviv area.
The total number of housing starts throughout Israel rose 3.4 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, according to the CBS.
Housing starts in the West Bank have been lower since a 10-month freeze in building in West Bank settlements began in November 2009, in an effort to bring the Palestinians to the peace negotiating table. It took until 2013 for many new housing tenders to be issued for West Bank settlements, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The figures were released hours before a scheduled meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama in Washington. Washington considers continued building in the settlements an obstacle to arriving at a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.