Fueling recent heavy criticism of Israel amidst ongoing US-brokered peace talks is the perception that construction of new Jewish homes on lands claimed by the Palestinians skyrocketed over the past year.
Even Israeli newspapers on Tuesday ran reports that while new building starts in Tel Aviv had decreased by 19 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year, Jewish construction in the so-called “West Bank” had shot up by 123 percent.
The presentation of these numbers is ill-informed, at best, and purposely deceptive, at worst.
The reason for the seemingly enormous increasing in “settlement activity,” as many Israeli officials pointed out, was that for much of 2012 there was a building freeze imposed on Jewish construction in the disputed territories.
So, naturally, any new building in 2013, regardless of how minuscule by comparison to other parts of the country, would register as a major upswing in national statistics.
To put the numbers in perspective, 1,133 Jewish housing units (primarily apartments) were built in Judea and Samaria in 2012. In 2013, that number increased to 2,534 units, hardly a building boom.