Despite contentious announcements of new construction in Yehudah and Shomron over the past year, actual housing starts in 2014 dropped 52 percent compared to the previous year, according to Central Bureau of Statistics.
The figures were released Tuesday even as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu flew by helicopter on Tuesday morning to the IDF headquarters in Yehudah and Shomron, located between the Palestinian city of Ramallah and the Jewish community of Beit El, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The Likud and Jewish Home parties are competing for support in the region, and the official figures will likely cast doubt on their image as stalwart Zionists standing up to international pressure against Israeli building.
Outside of preventing a nuclear Iran, Netanyahu said, “an additional thing that is fateful to Israel’s future and the security of its citizens is our presence here in Yehudah and Shomron.”
With Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon at his side, Netanyahu declared that “the activity of the IDF and the security services is essential to prevent a takeover by radical elements that would certainly attack Israel and threaten our communities and our people, and would also threaten the Palestinian Authority and take control of the Palestinian public.”
A spokesman for Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) claimed that the Central Bureau of Statistics data did not fully reflect all that Ariel had done on behalf of the Israeli presence in the region.
Ariel, who became Construction minister in 2013, marketed 1,100 homes in Yehudah and Shomron in 2013 and another 2,400 units in 2014. As a result, there should be a jump in new homes this year, the spokesman said.