Report: Settlement construction and spending on the rise

Israel building up 'isolated' settlements east of security fence, report finds. Spending on settlements surged following Trump's election.

David Rosenberg,

Construction in Ariel, Samaria
Construction in Ariel, Samaria
Flash 90

Construction starts in Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria increased in 2018, a new report claims, following a surge in spending following the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

Israel spent significantly more on the settlements and local infrastructure since President Trump was elected in November 2016 than during the eight years of the Obama presidency, Peace Now’s annual report revealed Tuesday.

According to the report, Israel spent on average roughly one billion shekels ($279 million) annually on Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria over the past ten years – not including defense spending in the area.

In 2017, however, the figure rose significantly, from 1.189 billion shekels ($330 million) in 2016 to 1.65 billion shekels ($460 million) in 2017. While the full report of spending in 2018 is not yet available, the spending during the first half of 2018 was also significantly higher than during the eight years of the Obama administration, at about 700 million shekels for six months, though down from the peak level of 2017.

The number of housing starts in 2018 were relatively high, with construction starting on 2,100 homes in Israeli towns across Judea and Samaria, about 9% higher than the average of 1,935 new starts per year over the past decade.

The vast majority of the new housing units started in 2018 are being built outside of the major blocs which lie inside of the security fence. Some 73%, or 1,539 of the new housing starts, are on the east side of the fence – slightly higher than the 70% average of housing starts over the past decade which were located east of the fence.

A significant number of housing starts were in towns whose legal status has yet to be determined – communities often referred to as “outpost settlements”.

During 2018 the Israeli government also advanced a large number of construction plans, with an even larger proportion of planned homes east of the security fence.

A total of 5,618 planned housing units were advanced through the approval process in 2018, including 4,672 (nearly 83%) which lie to the east of the security fence.

The number of housing tenders approved in 2018 hit a nearly two-decade high, with approval for 3,808 new homes in Judea and Samaria.