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Monday, October 03, 2011

'Palestinians' create facts on the ground, World is silent

Last week, Israel was castigated by the 'international community' for announcing the construction of 1,100 housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. Israel was accused of changing the status of the disputed territories, and was condemned by the United States, the European Union, the Middle East Quartet, and just about everyone else you can think of.

But over the past four years, the 'Palestinians' have added more than 180,000 new housing units in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and no one complains about these facts on the ground changing the status of the disputed territories. Not even Israel.
The number of housing units in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is expected to reach a total of 884,385 in 2011, an increase of about 26% compared with 2007, according to projections by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), which released the statistics to mark Arab Housing Day, observed by the League of Arab States on the first Monday of every October.

This year, the Palestinians are expected to complete 33,822 dwelling units, according to the PCBS. By comparison, Israel completed 33,128 units in 2010, according to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics.

“There is a huge need for construction since there is a deficit of more than 70,000 housing units,” Mohammad Shtayyeh, a former Palestinian minister of public works and housing, told The Media Line.

While settlement building in the West Bank has received the world’s attention, much more residential construction is being done by Palestinians, as foreign assistance creates jobs and put money into people’s pockets. The economy of the West Bank grew 8% in 2010, although the pace of growth slowed in the first half of this year as foreign aid dried up – a development that could slow new construction as well.

In the meantime however, so much building is going one that Palestinians are forsaking private homes for apartment life. For the first time, more Palestinians live in apartments (50%) than in a house (48%), mainly due to a shortage of land but also due to their growing urbanization, particularly in the cities of Ramallah and Nablus.

“Ramallah is different, because of the government and ministries and private sector and the NGOs [non-government organizations], so it has to have public buildings and office buildings. There are some 25,000 people commuting to jobs in Ramallah every day,” said Shtayyeh, who served as minister from 2004 until 2006 and again in 2009 and 2010.

The Palestinians are also currently constructing an $800 million planned city called Rawabi, north of Ramallah, which is projected to house 40,000 people in affordable apartments. But in outlying cities such as Hebron and Jenin, construction is more sporadic and of poorer quality.

The bulk of the 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank (according to US Central Intelligence Agency figures) reside in the PA, which controls some 38% of the territories. With a 4% population growth, there is enormous pressure for new housing. The PCBS estimates that 72% of households will be in need for new housing units to be built in the next decade.
The rest of the article is a sob story about how crowded the 'Palestinians' are, but it's based on the number of rooms and, as anyone who has ever lived in Manhattan knows, what's much more important is room size. In Israel, to be eligible for a government-backed mortgage, you either have to own no real estate in Israel, or you have to have less than 10 square meters per person in living space. Oh - and their average rent is $210 per month. Today, I saw a 3-bedroom apartment in my non-center city neighborhood of Jerusalem advertised for NIS 4,200 per month 'flexible.' With the current exchange rate at approximately NIS 3.7 to the dollar, that comes to about $1135 per month for an apartment that's probably less than 100 square meters.

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At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That the Palestinians are building in Areas A or B shouldn't be any surprise. ? That's always been permitted. That's what the PA was for. Wonder what the arrangement is supposed to be for Arab construction in Jerusalem, East. Why the world thought Area C was presumptively "Palestinian" is another question. Here in Fairfax County, $1200 for 1 BR apartments (plus utilities ) for 500-600 square feet is common. hmmm. Call me Ahmed--I'm opening up a puppet theater and moving to Jenin.

At 3:06 AM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Well, GIS maps with title search data (and lots of other stuff) in layers would start to sort this. Right now it is all a "struggle", but if Israel is a country of private ownership, and not a marxist collective ownership system, then to start regularizing title holding could be a big plus. Both inside Israel with the "camping for free stuff" people and for the neighbors to observe. I remember reading that one of the most vocal families with their home split from their farmland by the security barrier don't own any of it. They just moved onto the land and started using it. Starting inside Israel with title regularization (and posting in a GIS system) would be a statement of intent by Israel in support of private property (if that actually is what Israel wants).

At 3:26 AM, Blogger Sunlight said...

BTW, these articles with how "crowded" the Palestinians are, are the reason I keep recommending that visitors go on a bus or car - ground level, not only helicopter - from Beit She'an or Tiberias in the North down that highway along the Jordan Valley and up the hill into Jerusalem from the East. There is a universe of open space out there (in the tiny universe of the area, anyway). The articles saying there isn't are lying. Go see for yourselves with your own eyes!


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