Peace Now reports 34 percent increase in new West Bank housing


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Construction starts in the West Bank grew by a third in 2016 over the same period in the previous year, according to a new report.

Peace Now’s annual construction report, which was released Sunday, showed 1,814 new housing units began construction, an increase of 34 percent over 2015. Among the new building, according to the report, 70 percent was in settlements east of the proposed Geneva Initiative border, or settlements that are likely to be emptied in a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Over 26 percent, or 474 housing units, of the new construction was in areas that are east of the route of the security barrier.

In addition, according to the report, 42 new public buildings such as schools and synagogues were started in 2016, as well as 23 structures for industry or agriculture.

“The trends of 2016 illustrate that while Netanyahu attempts to illustrate restraint in order to save face among the international community, on the ground construction is not only ongoing but also increasing, mainly in the most problematic areas for a future agreement,” Peace Now said in a statement. “If the Israeli government is interested in a two-state solution, it must seize acting unilaterally in a way that makes this solution much more difficult to achieve.”

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