What the Guardian won’t report: West Bank settlement building has DECLINED under Bibi

headerThough Binyamin Netanyahu agreed last summer to release over 100 so-called pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners (who all were serving sentences for murder, attempted murder or being an accessory to murderas a good faith measure to restart peace talks, he made no such promise to the U.S. that his government would curtail settlement construction in the West Bank as a pre-condition.

Despite this fact, those in the UK media who argue that homes built across the green line represents the biggest obstacle to peace can be expected – in the event negotiations between the two parties break down – to inform readers that Bibi’s ‘aggressive settlement construction’ (as Saeb Erekat and others have phrased it) is, in large measure, what scuttled the talks.

So, when it was reported throughout the media yesterday that data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics revealed that settlement construction in the West Bank in 2013 represented a 123% increase from the previous year, we decided that look a bit further into the history of such housing starts and came across some rather counter-intuitive information.  

Ha’aretz was one of the sites reporting the ‘dramatic’ increase in housing construction, and they used the following graph which illustrates housing starts in the West Bank each year, beginning in 2001.


Settlement construction in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) between 2001 and 2013, per Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics

As you can see, though housing starts did increase dramatically in 2013, based on numbers from the previous year, construction for the nearly five years Netanyahu has been prime minister shows a decrease from the previous four years when Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon were in power.  From 2009 through 2013, there were 7477 housing starts in the West Bank, while from 2004 through 2008 there were 9293 starts.  So, under Netanyahu, there has been a nearly 20% decline in West Bank construction in comparison to the five years before he became prime minister. (Netanyahu was sworn in on March 31, 2009)

Construction decreased dramatically after Bibi agreed to a 10-month construction freeze (beginning in late 2009), but the rate of building still remained low in the 2 1/2 years after the freeze ended – and only increased significantly in 2013.

Whilst such dry data will of course never pose an obstacle to Guardian journalists intent on advancing the tried and true narrative about Israeli settlements, those who take the time to carefully scrutinize news coming out of the region will at least understand that claims made that such construction has increased under Netanyahu are not supported by the empirical evidence.


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78 replies »

    • “West Bank settlement growth has declined under Bibi” = Illegal West Bank settlement building has continued in violation of international law under Bibi, further jeopardizing the peace process and the two-state solution. These are the FACTS.

      • There is no illegality for Jews more than Muslims and Christians to build in the areas reffered to as the occupied territory. The fact that this is at all brought up proves that the Muslims are the prejudiced and intolerant people. The request of no building when requested meant that nobody builds anywhere in these areas until all the problems are clarified. In these lands there was never a Palestinian Government. Jordan by war took these territories away from the lands promised Israel under the league of nations mandate. The British never did like the Jews and even threw them out of England for over three hundred years. They were the country that was given the mandate to establish a Jewish homeland in 1919. Since 1922 they did everything to not let the Jews enter the asame homeland they were supposed to build a state for them. Instead they went up in smoke in the Nazi crematoriums.

  1. let’s be fair: 2009 was the first year of 0bama in power, the worst ever president of the US, a man who turns everything he touch to dust and ashes.

  2. Could this potentially have to do with people having no money to expand or even buy new homes?
    This also disregard the 2007 onwards financial crisis.

      • You do know it cost money to buy a house in Judea and Samaria. not as much as in Tel Aviv but still you have to pay for it.

        • Those who head for the illegal settlements in Palestine are usually those who cannot afford to live in Israel. Give them money and they will move back to the Jewish state in 24 hours. No one in his right mind would go and live in Ma’ale Adunim or Ariel when they could afford to live in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

          • Nice name. lol . Not really true. Those people could pay the same price if they choose the south or north Israel. Maale Edomim and Ariel are much better than Tel aviv or jerusalem. not because they are cheaper but becuase the quality of life is much better.

      • I thought my words were clear enough: West Bank settlement housing continues to increase – and at a rate higher than what would be considered natural growth.

    • No, it increased LAST YEAR over the PREVIOUS year.

      The THREE previous years were the lowest in at least a decade, as you can clearly see from the above graph. If you take a yearly average during the period each prime minister was in office, then Bibi has the LOWEST average building starts.


      …it’s far less than under Ehud Barak, who is also internationally acclaimed as a peacemaker (for his generous offer at Camp David in 2000): One single year under Barak, 2000, produced more housing starts in the settlements (4,683) than the entire first four years of Netanyahu’s term (4,679).

      It’s true that settlement construction more than doubled last year; otherwise, Netanyahu’s average would have been even lower. But it doubled from such a low base that the absolute number of housing starts, 2,534, is not only far less than Barak’s record one-year high; it’s only slightly larger than the 1995 total of 2,430 – when the prime minister was Yitzhak Rabin, signatory of the Oslo Accords and patron saint of the peace process. In previous years, housing starts under Netanyahu were only a third to a half of those in 1995.

  3. You forgot the negative sign. Easy mistake to make. Its a decline of -123% i.e. an increase. But you knew that, didn’t you?

  4. Only ultra right wing Zionist propagandists could paint a 123% increase in colony building as a drop

  5. Why do you allow the discussion to be clouded by the use of emotive terms such as ‘settlement building’?

    If you look at the figure quoted for 2013, all you are talking about is the building of 2,534 dwellings. That is not a lot.
    Yet the building of a modest number of dwellings is blown out of all proportion by the use of emotive terms such as ‘settlement building’ and, by one idiot above, as ‘colony building’.

    • Yes Gerald I will come and take your land your home by force , see how you like it baby, it’s only one so no big deal then

          • Oh surely your right. What was I thinking by calling Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and especially Saudi Arabia, each of whom declare themselves Arab states and who are members of the Arab League, Arabs?
            That certainly was very anti-Semitic of me as anyone can tell by the dictionary definition of that term:
            anti-Semitism – hostility to or prejudice against Jews.

            You certainly have point – the one your head comes to.

      • “Baby” you are kindly invited to come and try to take my home. Naturally you have to bear the consequences (what I can assure you won’t be very pleasant).

        • exactly and that explains how cowards like yourself hiding behind a usa financed military steal the land of others, no price to pay cos they cant fight back, if i saw you in the street on fire i would not xxxx on you

          • Empty words baby, I’m not hiding behind any military – I’m the military myself. Regarding land stealing maybe you should tell whose land has been stolen by whom. It seems you are confusing us with your Arab friends who financed by Europe, the US and the UN are unable to progress anywhere at all only whining about the land what they took by violence and now has been taken back by the original legitimate owners (And these finances much bigger than the aid Israel gets from the US)
            Would be interesting to hear your explanation about the present difference between the social, scientific, economic, military achievements of the Arab world and Israel.

              • Dollars baby? You mean the billions of oil revenues? The huge aid money the Palestinians get from the world even moving their collective asses? The free electricity they get from Israel? Their sensational technological achievments treating AIDS and hepatitis C? Or curing cancer with camel piss?
                Your explanation is laughably stupid and moronic. Try again.

                • You are a military satellite of the USA, nuclear weapons baby, you are the final solution , the patsy for US power , they don’t risk their own land or people, but use you to maintain and threaten over the middle east

                • Where did you learn this Jan? From the Pravda? Al-quds? PressTV? The International Socialist? Not very impressive…

                • Kill all the lawyers, and now Israel is the “final solution”?

                  Easy on the cough medicine, kidda.

              • How would this explain your idiotic assertion that we are hiding behind our military if we ourselves are the same military?
                Have you ever heard about the word “logic”? You must be the proverbial baby who has been rocked in a cradle made of stone. Maybe your parents should have bought a proper one instead of washing your single braincell with Jew-hate…

                • Apparently some Jews hate themselves , and reading this Zionist , blame the victims tripe I can understand why , it is as valid as blaming the Jews themselves as they were lead into the gas chambers . I do not blame the Jews for the holocaust, it was the nazis, the military scapegoating of a people. Sounds so familiar doesn’t it. I am sure the Nazis rationalised their policies in the same way the zionists do here . Beneath contempt.

                • So you feel contempt toward us. Very good baby. The sure sign that we make something well.

                • Jan:

                  I am sure the Nazis rationalised their policies in the same way the zionists do here . Beneath contempt.

                  You have conveniently provided the right response to your first sentence there.

              • I can understand why , it is as valid as blaming the Jews themselves as they were lead into the gas chambers
                Dreaming on the good old times baby? But don’t take out your SS uniform from your attic yet.

                • The younger generation of the Nazis like Jan/Natzieboy miss the experience of the olders to be kicked up, Time to repeat the lesson.

                • Rewriting history baby? I only quoted your history lesson without any change.
                  BTW What is your purpose here? You already demonstrated that as a typical card carrying Jew-hater your IQ is somewhere in the subzero domain with your totally incoherent babbling and random use of pseudo-scholarly word structures whose meaning obviously not within your ability to understand. In this respect your success is absolute. What else do you want to prove?
                  Anyway, until know your posts were really funny in their unique way of demonstrating the spiritual world of a genuine loser who can’t face the roots of his failures and tries to accuse someone else, but now that you are only repeating yourself your performance turned to be extremely boring, so I’m going to leave you with your desperate hate alone. In your own interest please avoid to stain your keyboard because your babysitter will be upset.

                • I’m always happy to pile up shit to bury you underneath. Just tell and I’m coming…

              • Jan: “I am sure the Nazis rationalised their policies in the same way the zionists do here”.

                And the point you want to make is that you are not a miserable Jew-baiting bastard motivated by malice towards Jewish national liberation from the yoke of European oppression, but a true son of the enlightenment, who sees Jewish sovereignty as an affront to natural justice and reason.

            • Ben Gurion your first pm said about the Arabs “we have taken their country” is that not true

              • You know poor braindamaged baby quoting some words from a text without any context is only shows your stupidity and ignorance. Keep up trying…

                • Absolutely not deny that Ben-Gurion used everyone of the quoted words.
                  Understanding their meaning in their full context is way above your intellectual capacity baby. Don’t even try to interpret them, this heroic effort would cause serious headache and Mommy will be angry.

                • NAtzieboy quotes something which circulates around the net since twenty years, without any prove, spread by anti-Semites like him.
                  It´s the usual hearsay when it comes to diffame and denounce.
                  The only source available is Nahum´s book, published after Gurion`s death, allegedly remembering a nightly discussion forty years ago.
                  Well, Goldmann wanted to score in his livelong quarrel with Gurion, even after the death of Ben Gurion, by supposing him a quote which was far more typical for Goldmann`s attitude.

      • Thank you ‘Jan’ for giving a clear example of how the use of ’emotive terms’ is used by your ilk as a substitute for truth and facts.

    • “Why do you allow the discussion to be clouded by the use of emotive terms such as ‘settlement building’?”

      What euphemism do you think would be more appropriate?

      • “What euphemism do you think would be more appropriate?”

        No need to use anything other than factual statements.
        Any more stupid questions ‘HouseMouse’ ?

    • These are not dwellings, these are units built in settlements outside Israel in breach of international law, in the territory of Palestine. These settlements are illegal.

      • “These are not dwellings,”

        If someone resides in these ‘units’, irrespective of where they are built, then they are dwellings you clown.

        • “If someone resides in these ‘units’, irrespective of where they are built, then they are dwellings you clown.”

          And most likely perfectly legal, no matter one feels about it politically.

      • So you want us to belive that Judea and Samaria are Palestine?

        All of western Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, including the West Bank and Gaza, remains open to Jewish settlement under international law.

        Professor Eugene Rostow concurred with the ICJ’s opinion as to the “sacredness” of trusts such as the “Mandate for Palestine”:

        “‘A trust’ – as in Article 80 of the UN Charter – does not end because the trustee dies … the Jewish right of settlement in the whole of western Palestine – the area west of the Jordan – survived the British withdrawal in 1948. … They are parts of the mandate territory, now legally occupied by Israel with the consent of the Security Council.”3

  6. This discussion shows how statistics can be used to show two complete opposites. 1. That building on land across the green line has massively increased in the last year, and 2. that building on land across the green line has reduced since Netanyahu took office.

    Both are true – it just depends what time scale you choose to look at. This is the same loophole the climate change sceptics use. If you look at global temperatures over the last 200 years (to see the change since the industrial revolution) there is a clear and growing spike, but if you look at the trend over the last 200,000 years this spike looks like just a normal blip in the constantly changing global climate.

    You’ve heard the phrase lies, damned lies and statistics…

    The point here is that those who consider the “settlements” as the primary obstacle to peace will highlight the first interpretation, while those who do not will highlight the second. Neither is incorrect or inaccurate.

      • “first, kill all the lawyers”
        ‘jan’ we are feeling energetic today, aren’t we?

        But to want to kill all those who do not agree with you is common for you and your ilk.
        I see like you twins ‘noam’ and ‘Noam’ you can’t decide whether to use upper or lower case letters either. Although clearly in your case it is neither upper or lower case but NUTCASE

        • that went home mate didnt it, that went home, fear the overwhelming silent majority viva Bel’in the village that fought back, against an army of cowards

          • Jan “fear the overwhelming silent majority”

            You use the silent majority as a measure of morality? Another lesson for the yids from an arrogant European perhaps? The same majority that subjugated and murdered Jews for millennia. Israel is liberation from your moral majority. A true anti-fascist and anti-imperialist endeavour. A restoration of justice that is the antithesis of your hateful world view.

            • The thread is about Jews, so Jan’s mind immediately leaps to wanting to do some killing. S/He’s not a Jew-hater, I hasten to add–s/he didn’t specify the religion of the lawyers s/he wants to kill.

              • No – she knows (for I have admitted as much myself on this blog) that I am a lawyer. It was a personal death threat. Thanks Jan.

    • This discussion shows how statistics can be used to show two complete opposites.

      Precisely the point of my first post.