Even as leading mayors in Judea and Samaria accuse Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of preparing for a building freeze and bowing to American pressure, leftist groups are saying the opposite.
Peace Now, which opposes any Jewish presence in the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, published a report Tuesday morning covering the number of building tenders advanced during the nine-month attempt by US Secretary of State John Kerry to jumpstart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) – and the number is significant: 13,851 building tenders were slated for Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria since July 2013. As Peace Now notes, that is an average of 50 units per day and 1,540 units per month.
According to the report, the State issued tenders for 4,868 units over that time – 2,248 of them in Judea and Samaria and 2,620 units in Jerusalem. Plans for another 8,983 units were advanced – 6,561 of them in Judea and Samaria and 2,422 in Jerusalem.
Peace Now founder Yariv Oppenheimer derided Netanyahu for "using the talks as a front," in his words, to establish facts on the ground.
"The numbers do not lie," he stated. "Under the auspices of political negotiations, Netanyahu broke the records for settlement building and caused even more damage to the chances of separating the two countries." The Peace Now report claims that building tenders had been issued at a rate four times higher than in previous years.
"[Finance Minister Yair] Lapid and [Justice Minister Tzipi] Livni must stop presenting Netanyahu's version of peace and leave the government immediately," Oppenheimer urged. "The Prime Minister has become Prime Minister of the settlers."
"The report's data reveal scandalous and vexatious realities taking place at the time that Israeli citizens are groaning under high cost of living and young families rarely, if ever, are able to purchase an apartment," Meretz Chair Zehava Gal-On stated Tuesday. "No argument will help obscure the reality: the money that the Finance Minister is responsible for is going to the settlements."
"It is time for Lapid to stop being a coward, stop surrendering to the far right and start repaying the money to all of us inside the Green Line."
Vice President of the Yesha Council, Yigal Dilmoni, responded to the news Tuesday with a reiteration of the facts.
"Unfortunately, the pace of construction in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem does not provide a solution to the increasing demand for housing, causing a rise in housing prices," he said. "The cynical report uses the phrase 'unprecedented building,' when in fact these are only preliminary planning meetings. The presentation of the report and the distorted data are essentially an embrace, by leftist organizations, of the attempt by [PA Chairman] Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas to blame Israel for the failure of negotiations."