Controversial West Bank Tender in E1 Area Issued Behind Netanyahu's Back

There is no reason for Israel to pay an international price for a meaningless move, Prime Ministers Office states, after halting Housing Ministry plan.

The Housing Ministry admitted Tuesday afternoon that the tender it issued for the construction of 1,200 housing units in the E1 area was done behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's back.

Just hours after the news broke, Netanyahu ordered a halt to the construction plans in the E1 area. The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement: "There is no reason to pay an international price for a planning process that isn't that significant." This tender is part of a plan for over 20,000 housing units throughout the West Bank, the largest in the last decade.

Officials close to Housing Minister Uri Ariel said publishing the tenders without Netanyahu's knowledge is not out of the ordinary. "The tender for planning companies is like those [found] throughout the country. There are plans for 600,000 residential units ssued every year throughout Israel, and it is a process that takes seven years. This is not the marketing of residential units. They can be used in the future or not, but there is no reason not to plan."

E1 has an area of 12 square kilometers (for the sake of comparison: Ramat Gan has an area of 13 square kilometers, and Lod an area of roughly 12) that spreads out to the north and west of the city of Ma’aleh Adumim. From a municipal standpoint, the land belongs to the Ma’aleh Adumim municipality. The area has a general overall plan from which five more overall plans are derived: two for housing, industry, hotels and a water reservoir known as Ketef Tzofim.

According to the overall housing plan, 1,250 housing units are planned for the southern section of the area, and 2,400 for its eastern section. The industrial zone is planned for an area of 1,340 dunams. The hotel plan includes the construction of dozens of hotels with a total of 2,152 rooms and 260 more housing units. In the past, Israel had begun preparing the land for the southern plan of 1,250 housing units; roads and infrastructure were built and a police station was constructed at the top of the hill, but American pressure stalled the plans.