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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Finally! Making up for lost time

With the expiration of the 'settlement freeze,' construction has picked up at a torrid pace for those who already had building permits before the freeze was implemented. Construction has started on 544 homes in Judea and Samaria in the last two weeks - some four times the average for the previous two years.
And many homes are going up in areas that under practically any peace scenario would become part of a Palestinian state, a trend that could doom US-brokered peace talks.

According to an Associated Press count, ground has been broken on 544 new West Bank homes since Sept. 26, when Israel lifted its 10-month freeze on most new settlement building.

The survey, while not comprehensive, marks the most extensive effort yet to quantify the construction. It was based on visits to 16 of the West Bank's more than 120 settlements as well as phone calls to more than four dozen settlements and interviews with construction workers and mayors.

"This figure is alarming and is another indicator that Israel is not serious about the peace process, which is supposed to be about ending the occupation," said Ghassan Khatib, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' self-rule government in the West Bank.


The actual number is likely higher. When officials provided a range, the AP used the lowest figure. And it did not include 133 apartments a contractor said he was building in three settlements, because he did not say how many were already started.

Peace Now estimates there have been more than 600 housing starts and plans to release its own detailed report next week.

Much of the building activity witnessed by the AP involved leveling ground, and some settler leaders argue it is premature to define that as housing starts.

Asked about the AP count, a spokeswoman for the settler group Yesha Council said: "I prefer not to get into the numbers game because it's misleading."

About two-thirds of post-freeze work is preliminary and could be halted if the freeze is renewed, said the spokeswoman, Aliza Herbst.
If the 'Palestinians' want to slow this down, they had better come back to the table quickly. Otherwise, there may soon be nothing to discuss.


At 10:45 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

The Palestinians show no interest in serious negotiations.

All one can say is to the furious burst of revanant construction is faster, faster, faster!



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