Settlement building rises sharply following freeze


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The construction of at least 13,000 housing units in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem has been approved since the end of the 10-month building freeze in the settlements.

Some 2,000 units are under construction, The New York Times reported Thursday, citing figures from the Peace Now organization.

"We can say firmly that this is the most active period in many years,” Hagit Ofran, who monitors settlement growth for Peace Now, told the Times.

Settler leaders confirmed the Peace Now numbers for the newspaper.

"The only difference is that they see it as negative, and we see it as positive,” David Ha’Ivri, spokesman for the Samaria Regional Council in the northern West Bank, told the Times.

The building is occurring only in existing settlements, and no new land is being used for the projects, according to the newspaper.

More than 300,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank. Approximately 200,000 Israeli Jews live in eastern Jerusalem and are considered settlers by much of the world, which does not recognize Israel’s annexation of the area.

The Palestinians have said they will not return to peace talks, which were halted shortly after their relaunch in September, until Israel stops construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. 

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has drafted a resolution to be presented to the United Nations Security Council condemning Israel’s West Bank settlement activity.

The Security Council will likely vote on the resolution, which was drafted with the assistance of 15 countries, in February, after the United States ends its presidency of the council, Reuters reported.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas last month requested a Security Council meeting to discuss settlement building.

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