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Peace Now: 2,066 settlement homes to be built as soon as freeze ends

New report indicates an overall of 13,000 previously authorized West Bank housing units, construction sites could be built after the Sept. 26 freeze expiration date.

By Chaim Levinson and Haaretz Service
12 September 2010

2,066 new homes would be ready for continued West Bank construction as soon as a moratorium on settlement building is lifted later this month, a report by the Israeli left-wing NGO Peace Now said Sunday, adding that work on another 11,000 potential units could hypothetically start as well.

West Bank construction Sept. 2, 2010 Reuters

Construction in the West Bank settlement of Beit Hagai near Hebron, defying the settlement freeze, September 2, 2010.

Photo by: Reuters

The Peace Now reports came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting earlier Sunday that while Israel wouldn't necessarily continue its freeze on settlement construction, it was possible that a compromise could be reached in which construction would resume at a slower pace.

"I don't know if there will be a comprehensive freeze," he said. "But I also don't know if it is necessary to construct all of the 20,000 housing units waiting to be built. In any case, it doesn't have to be all or nothing."

The Peace Now report released Sunday indicated that work could proceed on 2,066 housing units, spread out over 42 different settlements since those building projects had already received the required permits and have preliminary foundations.

The report's figures corresponded with previously released data on the subject, which alleged that between 2,000 and 2,500 homes were okayed for continued construction as soon as the settlement freeze expires in September 26.

In July, a Haaretz probe indicated that at least 2,700 new housing units were scheduled to be built in the West Bank as soon as the current settlement freeze ended.

Peace Now, in the report released Sunday, said the units were dispersed over, among other locations, settlements such as Talmon, Modi’in Ilit, Kiryat Arba, Givat Ze'ev, and Kfar Tapuach.

In addition to the 2,066 units, Peace Now also claimed Sunday that there were an additional 11,000 potential houses which could be built, in places where general outlines had been approved.

Those potential units were located in Avnei Hefetz, Karnei Shomron, Ma'ale Efraim, Revava, Tekoa, Talmon, Kedumim, Immanuel, Mevo Dotan, and Beit Aryeh. However the fact that these units can be built doesn't necessarily mean they will be built in the near future.

Referring to the upcoming expiration date of the settlement building moratorium, Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika warned that "an announcement of a continuation of the building freeze will be considered an announcement of the end of term for the Netanyahu government."

Netanyahu's "government... was elected with the votes of the nationalist camp but is trying to implement the policies of Balad," Mesika added.

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