On November 16 the Netanyahu government approved issuance of tenders for some 436 new units in the East Jerusalem settlement of Ramat Shlomo – in the context of the plan infamously approved in 2010, during a visit by U.S. Vice President Biden. The publication of these tenders is a serious development, marking the end of a relatively long period in which no new tenders for East Jerusalem settlement construction were approved. Meir Turgeman, chairman of the Jerusalem Committee for Planning and Building, reportedly told Army Radio he was working behind the scenes to win approval for another 1000 new units in the same area.
Given the heavy political baggage this plan carries for Netanyahu in the international community, there is no question that it could not be going forward at this point without the direct and explicit approval of Netanyahu. Indeed, it appears that Netanyahu has prioritized granting this concession (and others that may follow) to his coalition partner Naftali Bennet over his relations with allies in the international community. For background on Ramat Shlomo, see: here, here, and here.
During the past year and a half, there have be no truly new tenders in East Jerusalem. While these tenders were indeed announced in the past, there were never formally published – until now. This batch of Ramat Shlomo tenders consequently should be viewed as new, and as a significant deviation from the hesitant, partial self-restraint Netanyahu has exhibited in recent months regarding East Jerusalem tenders.