On December 16 approval was granted to deposit for public review Town Plan 175505, for 891 units to be located on private land on the southern slopes of the east Jerusalem settlement of Gilo. Under TP 175505, the new construction will extend beyond the expropriation line and expand the current footprint of Gilo in the direction of the Palestinian town of Beit Jala. The decision to deposit the plan for public review is a significant step towards implementation, since this is one of the last steps before necessary before final approval. However, before being able to issue building permits, the municipality needs to complete a process called “reparcelization” (more commonly called “reparcellation”). This process can take a few months.

While the land is privately owned and the approval of TP 175505 took place so far only at the level of the Jerusalem Municipality, the fact is that the Plan was submitted by the Israeli Government, and  no such plan could not proceed without massive support from the Netanyahu government. It should be emphasized that TP 175505 is the sister plan to Mordot Gilo West – a fully government-initiated, government-backed plan currently being implemented.  However, unlike a government initiated project on so-called “State Land,” it is much more difficult for the State to intervene in order to withdraw or block the a private plan like TP 175505, though in sensitive cases high-level governmental intervention CAN result in private plan being frozen. And, notably, this plan was deferred in the past.

The issuance of tenders for new construction in Ramat Shlomo and the approval for deposit for public review of the Gilo plan are both evidence that the partial freeze on new construction in East Jerusalem settlements is unraveling. The question now is, what next? There are indeed other plans in the pipeline, but mostly in the West Bank. With the exception of residual tenders in existing settlement neighborhoods, the only other potential plan of any real size in Jerusalem is Givat Hamatos, for which tenders for 1500 units can be published at any time. If Netanyahu does give a green light for additional construction, new plans will be promoted and approved.