Israel approved the construction of nearly 14,000 homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem during nine months of peace talks, the dovish Peace Now NGO said in a report released Tuesday, the day marking the formal expiration of the crisis-stricken Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
In a report published Tuesday morning, the left-wing watchdog Peace Now claimed that during the nine months of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s orchestrated negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli government approved tenders and plans for at least 13,851 housing units in the settlements and East Jerusalem.
“This is an unprecedented number representing an average of 50 housing units per day or 1,540 per month,” the group said.
Tuesday is the last day of the nine-month period allotted for negotiations that were supposed to propel the two sides towards peace. Instead, the last month has witnessed a collapse in talks.
Jerusalem did not commit to freezing settlement construction during the negotiations when talks were announced nine months ago in July, though it had been a key Palestinian demand.
The Peace Now report also indicated that 73 percent of the plans were for the construction of housing units in “isolated” settlements, far from the Green Line, and that the number of tenders granted in the last year was four times greater than in the past.
Peace Now head Yariv Oppenheimer said the numbers showed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was moving further from peace efforts.
“The figures don’t lie,” he said, according to the Walla news site. “Courtesy of the peace negotiations, Netanyahu broke all building records in the settlements and damaged even further the chance of creating two states.”
A spokesperson for the Yesha settlers council told Israel Radio the figures were incorrect.
Peace Now said in its report it cited figures from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, which reported that in the second half of 2013 ground was broken for some 800 new housing units in the settlements.
Palestinians are seeking a new settlement building moratorium, including in East Jerusalem, as a precondition for extending talks.
AFP contributed to this report