Israel Announces Tenders for 1,400 New Housing Units in West Bank, Jerusalem

600 settlement units planned for East Jerusalem, 800 for West Bank; Netanyahu's announcement preempts likely protest by right-wing hardliners in his government.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

The Housing Ministry announced Friday morning new tenders for 1,400 housing units in settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

The announcement was made three weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he intends to launch a new wave of settlement construction parallel to the third step of Palestinian prisoner release.

Tenders were released for the construction of 600 housing units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in Jerusalem, which lies over the Green Line, and a further 801 units in settlement blocs in the West Bank.

Israel will build 227 housing units in Efrat, 78 in Alfei Menashe, 86 in Karnei Shomron, 40 in Ariel, 75 in Adam, 24 in Beitar Illit, 102 in Immanuel and 169 in Elkana.

In addition, tenders were released for the construction of 532 units in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, across the Green Line. The plots for these units were marketed in the past but found no buyers, and were now put back out on the market. These include 182 units in Pisgat Ze'ev, 294 in Ramot and 56 in Neve Yaakov.

Netanyahu delayed the tenders for over two weeks, until after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to the region, but ahead of a an additional trip that's coming up. With this timing, Netanyahu likely aimed to avoid a delay of almost a month which might have cause the hardlines in his government to protest.

Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat denounced the new settlement tenders saying they show "Israel's clear commitment to the destruction of peace efforts and the imposition of an apartheid regime."

He called on the international community to take measures against the occupation in order to "protect and help to realize the two-state solution."

"[Israel's] announcement should also serve as a reminder to the international community to sever all ties with the Israeli occupation, including companies and institutions involved in the colonization of Palestine," Erekat said in a statement.

The Housing Ministry released the statement that Minister Uri Ariel is on an official visit to the United States, where he is slated to meet with representatives of Jewish communities and U.S. experts on public housing.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid responded to the announcement and called the tenders "devoid of substance," adding that the new construction is a bad idea and vowed his party will fight against it.

Construction site in the West Bank settlement of Modiin Illit. Settlement construction − and not any talks or prisoner release − is the only thing that creates solid facts.Credit: AP

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