The Trump Effect:
Surge in Judea and Samaria building permits in 2017

Five new communities, 2,783 new housing units, and 6,742 housing permits for Judea and Samaria during Trump's first year in office.

David Rosenberg ,

US President Donald Trump, Speaks at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, May 23, 2017 Photo By:
US President Donald Trump, Speaks at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, May 23, 2017 Photo By:
Kobi Richter/TPS

A new report issued by the left-wing Peace Now organization suggests that 2017 was a bumper year for the settlement movement in Judea and Samaria, with roughly two and a half times as many housing units advanced through the approval process during President Donald Trump’s first year as compared to former President Barack Obama’s last year in office.

According to the report released Sunday evening, there was a slight decrease in the number of new housing starts in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, with construction started on 2,783 new units in 2017, compared to 3,027 new housing starts in 2016.

Nevertheless, housing starts for 2017 were still 17% higher than the annual average during the eight years of the Obama White House.

However, most of the housing starts in 2017 were in towns outside of the major blocs close to the pre-1967 border, a shift from housing starts during the Obama administration.

Of the 2,783 total housing starts in 2017, 78% (2,168) were outside of the major blocs close to the pre-1967 border.

Thirty-six percent (997) of the new housing units were started in towns east of the security fence – a nine-percent increase over 2016.

A full 234 new housing starts were begun in so-called “outpost settlements”.

In addition to the 2,783 housing units started in 2017, work began on 68 public buildings, including schools and synagogues, as well as 69 new buildings for industrial or agricultural production.

The town of Efrat in Judea, south of Jerusalem, had most new home starts with 292, followed by the predominantly haredi town of Beitar Illit with 270, Karnei Shomron in Samaria with 261, and Alfei Menashe in western Samaria with 126.

While the total number of new housing starts was down slightly in 2017, the number of housing units advanced through the planning process surged dramatically.

Plans for housing projects totaling 6,742 new homes in 59 different towns were advanced in 2017, far above the 2,657 advanced in 2016. Roughly half of the 6,742 units received final approval from the government last year.

In addition, three new “outpost communities” established without government authorization in 2017, including Naveh Ahi north of Ramallah, Kedem Arava south of Jericho, and a third dubbed “Shabbatai’s Farm” south of Dhahiriya, in the Hevron Hills region.

The government also established the first officially-sanctioned Israeli town to be founded in Judea and Samaria in a quarter century, Amichai, which was built to replace the town of Amona, following its demolition in February 2017.

Residents began moving in to their new homes in Amichai on Sunday.

In addition, the government recognized the Jewish community in Hevron as a separate entity distinct from the Palestinian Authority-run municipality of Hevron, and authorized 31 new homes for the Jewish community there.

Earlier this month, a report released by former National Union MK Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz showed that as of January 1st, 2018, the total Jewish population of Judea and Samaria had risen to 435,159. The Jewish population in Judea and Samaria grew by 3.39% during 2017, rising from 420,899 in January 2017.