Peace Now revealed a sharp increase in building in Judea and Samaria on Tuesday, and the chairman of the Samaria Regional Council responded by thanking the left-wing group for proving Zionism is alive and well.
New housing starts last rose by 10 percent from a year earlier, when the temporary building freeze was in effect most of the time, according to Peace Now’s statistics, which are based on Housing Ministry figures. It said the ministry also issued 1,577 tenders for new homes that have not yet started to be built.
A 10-month building freeze in 2010 was put into effect to meet Palestinian Authority PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s condition for resuming direct talks. He then refused, saying the freeze was not comprehensive enough.
“The Netanyahu government is making every effort to prevent the chance for peace,'” said Peace Now spokeswoman Hagit Ofran. “At this pace of building, in a while we won't be able to have two states for two people.”
In addition to the housing starts in Judea and Samaria, 6,350 residential units for Jews in areas in Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinian Authority are in the bureaucratic pipeline, according to Peace Now.
Gershon Mesika, chairman of the Samaria Regional Council, thanked Peace Now for “proving that the People of Israel are healthy Zionists and connected to settling in Judea and Samaria.”
He added, “I am happy that Peace Now spends its money that it receives from the European Union to show evidence of Zionism in the Land of Israel for generations to come."
Israel has demolished dozens of outposts several times the past year, but Peace Now said the destruction is a mask for the much larger construction activity of building new homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria.
Contrary to Peace Now’s reasoning, Mesika said the building boom has come despite the government and not because of it. The Netanyahu government has removed incentives to live in Judea and Samaria, and Mesika said that Defense Minister Ehud Barak has exercised “abuse” of citizens by refusing to sign the necessary papers to allow the building of thousands of new homes previously approved.
Many communities in Judea and Samaria have zero housing vacancies despite a long list of families wanting to move there.