Seven percent of new Israeli construction sites erected this year were located in the West Bank, and the number of building projects across the Green Line rose by nearly 130% compared to 2012, according to statistics released Thursday.
The Central Bureau of Statistics reported that since the beginning of 2013, 32,290 construction sites for housing units were erected across Israel, an increase of 5.5% compared to the corresponding time frame in 2012.
There has also been an increase of 12.4% in the number of apartments whose construction was completed, with roughly 30,970 homes finalized since the beginning of 2013.
“I am delighted that construction starts exceeded predictions and erroneous statements in different media outlets,” Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel said Thursday.
Though he did not directly comment on the leap in construction in the West Bank, Ariel stressed that his ministry planned to further increase building across the country in the coming year.
“In 2014 we will see the marketing of thousands of housing units in places like Kiryat Gat, Modiin, Beit Shemesh, Kiryat Bialik, Rosh Ha’ayin and more,” Ariel concluded.
Earlier this month, Ariel appeared to provoke the ire of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the announcement of tenders for an unprecedented number of apartments — 20,000, including 1,200 homes in the controversial E1 corridor linking Jerusalem with Ma’aleh Adumim – in the West Bank.
Netanyahu ordered the tenders canceled hours after their publication, which wasn’t fast enough to head off sharp criticism from Washington and the Palestinian Authority.
Ariel later dismissed reports that he had been reprimanded by the prime minister for acting irresponsibly while peace talks with the Palestinians were ongoing.
According to settlement watchdog Peace Now, tenders have been issued for 3,472 new settlement units beyond the 1967 lines in the last eight months.