Binyamin Netanyahu has been prime minister for most of the last decade, and a report by Peace Now issued on the eve of Israel’s elections shows that he has been good for Jewish settlement in Yehudah and Shomron. During Netanyahu’s tenure, a total of 19,346 new homes have been built in the region – with the population growing by over 130,000.
The year 2018 alone saw construction begin on some 2,100 homes, 9-percent more than the average between 2009 and 2018. Of those, 73 percent were being built in “isolated” settlements, outside the settlement blocs, the report says, adding that 39 percent of them – 767 units – were built outside the security fence, which was first built in the mid-2000s and was meant to demarcate areas Israel would eventually annex if a deal with the Palestinians was ever reached.
Besides active construction, the government in 2018 advanced plans for the construction of another 5,618 homes in 79 towns in Yehudah and Shomron. Eighty-three percent of those are outside the areas of the “recommended map of the Geneva initiative,” Peace Now said, which roughly covers the areas of the settlement blocs. In addition, tenders were issued for 3,808 new homes, a record number, beating the previous record set in 2017 of 3,154 homes.
Towns with the highest rate of construction include Beitar Ilit, where 183 new homes were built in 2018, especially in Givah C, which significantly increased the area of the town.
Also growing significantly over the past year was Elkana, located in western Shomron. One hundred fifty-two new homes were built there in 2018, creating a territorial connection – essentially a single metropolitan area – with the neighboring towns of Etz Efraim to the east and Shaarei Tikvah to the west, Peace Now said.