For the first time in more than two decades, and possibly in the history of the settlement movement, a three-month period has passed without any new settler construction in Judea and Samaria, according to numbers released on Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
The report, which shows zero settler housing starts in the first quarter of 2010, is part of a larger report on construction in Israel that is released by the CBS four times a year, including at the end of May.
It is the first available government data by which one can evaluate the effectiveness of the 10-month moratorium on new settlement construction that the government put in place on November 26.
Although six months have passed since then, it is impossible to cull December numbers from the prior CBS report for the last quarter of 2009. Statistics are not available yet for April and May.
CBS data going back to 1989 shows that there has never been a quarterly building report that registered zero new construction in West Bank settlements.
Veteran settler leader Pinchas Wallerstein told The Jerusalem Post that he believed this was the first time such a phenomenon had occurred.
Under the terms of the moratorium, settlers can continue working on some 3,000 new homes whose foundations were laid before November 26. As a result, according to the CBS, the rate of homes being finished in Judea and Samaria has continued at its regular pace.
There was a 5-percent drop in the numbers, which showed 415 new homes finished in the first quarter of 2010, compared with 437 completed in the same time last year.
Overall, in 2009, 2,079 homes were completed in West Bank settlements, a 29% increase over 2008, when 1,601 new homes were finished.
In 2007, 1,747 new homes were completed, and 2,167 were finished in 2006.
When it comes to housing starts, CBS numbers show a dramatic jump in construction in the last quarter of 2009 – 122% – compared to the first quarter of that year. It’s assumed that this refers only to construction work that was done in October and November.
In the first quarter of 2009, there were 342 housing starts, 327 in the second quarter, 442 in the third and 762 in the fourth.
Overall, there were 1,873 housing starts in 2009, an 11% drop from 2008, when work was begun on 2,107 new homes.
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