Official Israeli data has shown a 176 per cent increase in Israeli settlement during the first quarter of 2013 when compared with the same period last year, the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) said.
This information is expected to affect the agenda of the upcoming visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to the region.
The construction was mainly concentrated in the Betar Elite and Modern Elite settlements; the two biggest settlements after Maali Adumim. Prior to 2013, a three year construction freeze was in place in both settlements.
According to CBS, construction of 865 settlement units has begun in the occupied West Bank with 506 units being built in the aforementioned settlements alone.
In the first quarter of 2012, 313 settlement units were built in the different settlements in the occupied West Bank with only 38 being built in Betar Elite and Modern Elite.
The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported an Israeli official in the government as saying: “The increase in settlement construction was a response to UN recognition of the Palestinian State.”
Over the last 18 years, around 50 per cent of Israeli settlement construction in the the occupied West Bank has taken place in Betar Elite and Modern Elite.
In 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a decision to freeze construction in all settlements for a ten-month period. After the construction ban was lifted, many of the construction bids remained frozen and the number of newly built settlement units was low in the following years.
However, the 2013 figures released by CBS show that there is a West Bank settlement building boom.
736 units were built in 2011 and 1044 were built in 2012. However, prior to the freeze in 2008, 2324 were built in total with 1472 being built in 2007