By Aryeh Savir
Tazpit News Agency
JERUSALEM – A report released last week by the extreme left-wing Peace Now movement claims that during the nine months of negations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority the Netanyahu Government promoted plans and tenders for at least 13,851 housing units in Judea and Samaria and east Jerusalem, an average of 50 units per day and an unprecedented 1,540 units per month.
Responding to this report, the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization of municipal councils of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, stated that this report was part of an effort by Peace Now to malign the State of Israel. Their response states that “while some of the facts that appear in the report are correct, others have been deliberately manipulated and distorted in order to mislead the reader.”
They further added that the timing of the publication of the report was no accident either; “it was intended to coincide with the halting of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians so that Israel can be accused of being responsible for the failure of the negotiations, completely ignoring the Palestinians’ consistent intransigence, their refusal to meet with John Kerry or to sign a memorandum of understandings, their unilateral approach to the United Nations and the PLO and the Palestinian Authority’s the conciliation with the terrorist Hamas organization” the Yesha Council response stated.
The Yesha Council noted that two types of steps involved in construction were mixed together in the Peace Now report: construction tenders and the planning of master plans.
Regarding the building tenders, in 2013, only 5,000 tenders for the construction of housing units were published, according to the Yesha Council, the majority in Jerusalem. The housing tenders for Judea and Samaria amount to fewer than 2000 housing units. “This figure is relatively low compared to previous governments, even those led by left-wing parties. The huge demand in the urban communities creates enormous pressure for apartments and every tender that is issued makes it easier for young couples from throughout the country to purchase an apartment,” the Yesha Council explained.
Regarding the Planning of master plans, in its report, Peace Now misrepresented planning meetings held by professionals concerning future construction plans as actual construction. “This is a deliberate distortion and manipulation of the reality”, says the Yesha Council, “Planning processes take a long time, 5-8 years at the minimum, and these are meetings among planning professionals aimed at discussing the physical aspects of planning and to decide whether or not to take the planning to the next step.”
The Yesha Council pointed out that on April 29th the media channels reported about Netanyahu’s decision to halt the planning procedures, which have been going on for more than three months now. “This fact would appear to negate Peace Now’s distorted claims regarding construction progress,” they said.
The Yesha Council concluded, stating: “We would be very happy if the State of Israel were indeed building at the rate presented in the report. Unfortunately, the figures as presented are wrong. The report misrepresents initial planning meetings and the discussion of the authorization of building permits for existing communities and houses that have been standing on the ground for many years as new construction. Sadly, the rate of construction in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem does not address the increasing demand for housing in those areas. Peace Now’s cynical use of the phrase “unprecedented construction,” when in fact what are involved are first-stage planning meetings or communities that have been around for years is especially egregious because it reveals the movement’s intention to harm the State of Israel. The report and its utter distortion and misrepresentation of facts is a crude attempt on the part of the leftist Peace Now to misrepresent Israel as being to blame for the failure of the negotiations with the Palestinians and an expression of the movement’s unwavering support for Abu Mazen and Hamas.”