As part of an effort to malign the State of Israel, the Peace Now movement, funded by the British government and the Norwegian published a report that alleges that Israel has built thousands of housing units in Judea and Samaria in the past year. While some of the facts that appear in the report are correct, others have been deliberately manipulated and distorted in order to mislead the reader.
The timing of the publication of the report is no accident either: It was intended to coincide with the halting of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians so that Israel can be accused of being responsible for the failure of the negotiations, completely ignoring the Palestinians’ consistent intransigence, their refusal to meet with John Kerry or to sign a memorandum of understandings, their unilateral approach to the United Nations and the PLO and the Palestinian Authority’s the conciliation with the terrorist Hamas organization.
It should be noted that two types of steps involved in construction were mixed together: construction tenders and the planning of master plans.
Building tenders – In 2013, some 5,000 tenders for the construction of housing units were published, the majority in Jerusalem. The housing tenders for Judea and Samaria amount to fewer than 2000 housing units, all in the settlement blocs of Ariel, Efrat, Modiin Ilit and Karnei Shomron. This figure is relatively low compared to previous governments, even those led by left-wing parties: Rabin (4,000 housing units per year), Ehud Barak (5,000) and Olmert (2,300).
The huge demand in the urban settlements creates enormous pressure for apartments and every tender that is issued makes it easier for young couples from throughout the country to purchase an apartment.
Even after the publishing of the tenders – the construction still takes at least a year to two years to complete, meaning that it’s quite a while before people actually move into them.
Planning of master plans – In its report, Peace Now misrepresented planning meetings held by professionals concerning future construction plans as actual construction. This is a deliberate distortion and manipulation of the reality. Planning processes take a long time, 5-8 years at the minimum and these are meetings among planning professionals aimed at discussing the physical aspects of planning and to decide whether or not to take the planning to the next step.
In some locations, plans in existing communities are involved. In these communities, the final plans have yet to complete their authorization process despite the fact that the houses were already built decades ago. These are houses that already exist and the discussions of them are aimed solely at completing their authorization process.
An example of professional-level discussions that do not involve building authorization: a discussion of the deposit of the plan in Gilgal, Kochav Yaakov, Talmon, Yakir, etc.
An example of a discussion involving existing communities: a discussion of authorization of Ofra’s Urban Building Plan (UBP).
In each case, these discussions are part of the long process of obtaining authorizations, which can take six years or more, meaning that we may see the actual construction that results only in many years to come.
It should be noted that yesterday (April 29, 2014), we heard on all the media channels about Netanyahu’s decision to halt the planning procedures, which have been going on for more than three months now. This fact would appear to negate Peace Now’s distorted claims regarding construction progress.
From what I can surmise, the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria would be very happy if the State of Israel were indeed building at the rate presented in the report. Unfortunately, the figures as presented are wrong. The report misrepresents initial planning meetings and the discussion of the authorization of an UBP of existing communities and houses that have been standing on the ground for many years as new construction. Sadly, the rate of construction in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem does not address the increasing demand for housing in those areas. Peace Now’s cynical use of the phrase “unprecedented construction,” when in fact what are involved are first-stage planning meetings or communities that have been around for years is especially egregious because it reveals the movement’s intention to harm the State of Israel. The report and its utter distortion and misrepresentation of facts is a crude attempt on the part of the Peace Now to misrepresent Israel as being to blame for the failure of the negotiations with the Palestinians and an expression of the movement’s unwavering support for Abu Mazen and Hamas.