Frugal Israelis Move to West Bank's Cheap Settlements: Peace Now Bashes New Settlement Building
A sense of injustice among Israelis over the high cost of living ignited last year's tent city protests. Activists drove home their point by pitching tents along Rothschild Boulevard -- home to some of Tel Aviv's most expensive real estate. The government took a number of initiatives, but the protests ended when local municipalities forced the protestors to relocate. And the solution for some was to relocate to the West Bank. In Tel Aviv, the Peace Now activist group monitors settlement construction in the West Bank. Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer says every move across the Green Line is political, and the Israelis who move there are financing further settlement expansion. But in the settlement of Itamar, Knesset member Danny Danon (Likud) said recently that last summer's social protests could have been avoided by further construction. Peace Now said the number of new settlement construction sites in the West Bank jumped by 20% in 2011. The economic reality of life in Israel, as opposed to political or religious motivations, may explain those numbers. Properties in West Bank settlements are often half the price they would be Tel Aviv or other Israeli cities.