Housing Ministry to open bidding on West Bank settlement construction

Housing Ministry to open bidding on West Bank settlement construction

Tenders will be for apartment units approved last month after UN recognition of Palestinian nonmember state

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Efrat in the West Bank (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Efrat in the West Bank (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The Housing and Construction Ministry on Tuesday announced that it would publish tenders for the construction of thousands of new apartment units in multiple West Bank settlements, a day after a planning committee approved 1,500 apartment units in East Jerusalem.

The plans for additional housing in Karnei Shomron, Efrat, and Givat Ze’ev were already approved as part of an earlier decision to build 3,000 new units in the West Bank. The tenders will be for the construction of those units.

All three settlements are considered parts of blocs that Israel has said it will seek to retain in any peace agreement.

The move was originally given a green light last month in reaction to the United Nations General Assembly’s recognition of a Palestinian nonmember observer state, according to Channel 2.

Left-wing organization Peace Now stated in response to the announcement that it would ask Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to negate the decision because it was made by a transition government.

The same panel that on Monday approved the construction of 1,500 new homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo also passed a measure approving construction of 600 units in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa. The committee on Tuesday, however, postponed construction plans for the Givat Hamatos neighborhood, south of Jerusalem, located over the Green Line.

Givat Hamatos could ultimately include up to 2,600 housing units and, according to Haaretz, would effectively link the neighborhoods of Gilo and Har Homa, create a block of Jewish residency beyond the Green Line and complicate future possibilities of a peace agreement with the Palestinians, who claim East Jerusalem as their capital.

The construction projects will likely anger the Palestinians and even Israeli allies who oppose settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. East Jerusalem, captured by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, was subsequently annexed by Israel, a move not recognized internationally.

France on Tuesday condemned the move to construct additional housing in Ramat Shlomo, calling it illegal colonization that impedes the peace process and imperils the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to Israel Radio.

Britain, Germany, France and Portugal were formulating a joint statement to the Security Council against Jerusalem’s approval of the new housing over the Green Line.

read more: