New Tenders Published for East Jerusalem Settlement Construction
On the morning of June 29th, the Israel Land Authority published tenders for 171 new settlement units in East Jerusalem. The tenders are for 23 new units in Pisgat Ze’ev North (Town Plan 4430A); 18 units in Pisgat Ze’ev East (Town Plan 3602B), and 130 units in Har Homa B (Town Plan 7509A). A map can showing the location of the tendered units can be viewed/downloaded here. The publication of the tenders received little public notice, but was condemned by the British Government.
Technically and bureaucratically-speaking these are new tenders, independent of previous ones for these settlements and not re-issuances of tenders already published. That said, almost identical tenders have been previously published regarding these same sites, in one case as long ago as 2003, and in all cases are recently as December 2011. Those previous tenders failed (i.e., either nobody bid for them or the bids were so low they could not be accepted – disclosing the fact that commercially these projects are not attractive to developers). So while these tenders are new, they are in effect only the latest effort to market what are basically the same projects in these settlements.
Politically, the implication of this is that the Netanyahu government will claim, with some justification, that these tenders are “nothing new” and brush off any criticism of the tenders. In terns of policy, the implication is that the Netanyahu government cannot under any circumstances claim that these tenders are necessary due to “natural growth” in these neighborhoods or to respond to market demand – the two arguments normally relied on to rationalize such tenders. These tenders are just the latest iteration of tenders that have been recycled, some many times over the last few years, precisely because there is no market demand for the units – leading the tenders to fail each time. The periodic attempt to market these units despite this lack of demand discloses the fact that the plans are motivated by ideology, rather than the market or even the needs of the targeted population.