New East Jerusalem Settlements Update

Last week it was reported that, in advance of his upcoming U.S. visit, Prime Minister Netanyahu had ordered two major East Jerusalem settlement plans to be taken off the planning agenda.  The reality is far more complicated a.  The plans in question are TP 11647, for 625 units in Pisgat Zeev, and TP 10390, for 983 units in Har Homa (beyond the existing built-up area, significantly expanding the footprint of the settlement with what will be called “Har Homa C”).  For a map of these plans, click here. These plans were originally scheduled for consideration by the Regional Planning Committee on April 14th, but that consideration was delayed days before the meeting, reportedly to because of the scheduled meeting of the Quartet (a meeting that was canceled).  While the Israeli media has reported that the plans would not be considered for “the near future,” the reality is that consideration of the plans was immediately re-scheduled for May 5th.

Now, consideration of the plans has again be delayed only for a short period of time , apparently in order to avoid “incidents” during Netanyahu’s visits to London and Paris. But they have already been re-scheduled for consideration on May 19th which is the day before Netanyahu is scheduled to meet President Obama. For a (Hebrew) copy of the agenda, click here.

Rescheduling the plans for May 19 would appear to disclose either gross incompetence on the part of the Prime Minister’s office in managing this issue (i.e., now Netanyahu will have to expend more political capital to delay the plans again or face a crisis with Washington), or very bad intentions (i.e., that Netanyahu is using these settlement plans as a quiet threat against the Obama administration and/or that he is trying to force the Obama administration to pay, over and over in political capital, in order to avoid a dust-up with the Prime Minister).

In all likelihood the consideration of the plans will again be delayed at the last minute – and rescheduled for immediately after Netanyahu’s return from Washington, when there will no longer be any immediate political reason for him to delay them any longer.  Indeed, given Netanyahu’s track record of “balancing out” any “conciliatory” gestures made toward peace with decidedly non-conciliatory East Jerusalem settlement initiatives, it is not at all improbable that following his Washington visit – where he will be pressed to out least give lip service to peace – his return to Jerusalem will be marked by another spike in East Jerusalem settlement activities, including but not limited to approval of these two plans.