In recent months we’ve reported on the apparent wholesale removal by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu of restraint when it comes to settlement activity in East Jerusalem, with two important exceptions: Givat Hamatos and E-1. Construction of these settlements, the former in the southwest of East Jerusalem, and the latter between East Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, would profoundly undermine the possibility of ever achieving a two-state solution, by concretely obstructing such a solution in Jerusalem. For this reason, the international community has vehemently opposed implementation of both of these plans for years. That opposition has been perhaps the sole factor in the decision by Netanyahu to hold back on the implementation of these plans – in particular Givat Hamatos, the plan for which was fully approved years ago, and tenders could be published at any time
Based on information from a well-placed government source, it now appears that Netanyahu has recently reversed his previous instructions to refrain from publishing the Givat Hamatos tenders. It is now expected that the Givat Hamatos tenders (for 1100 new units), held up until now by Netanyahu due to political/diplomatic considerations, are likely to be published in the coming months. The current delay is no longer political, but rather is technical: additional technical planning is required before the tenders can be issued, and that planning is reportedly being carried out today by a government corporation called Arim Ltd (Hebrew for “Cities”), which deals with the implementation of governmental construction projects. It should be emphasized that no additional statutory approvals are required, that this planning process is strictly technical in nature, and that it is being carried out by town planners and engineers. Our source indicates that the publication of the tenders is anticipated to take place in early 2018.
What this means is that the international community now has a brief window of no more than a few weeks or months to re-engage to try to convince Netanyahu to revert to his position of holding back these tenders. If such re-engagement is not forthcoming, or is unsuccessful, there will not be additional warning before the Givat Hamatos tenders are issued: the next time the world hears about Givat Hamatos, it will likely be when tenders are issued, at which point construction of the settlement, with all the damage it will do to the very possibility for peace ever being achieved – as we have warned about for years – will be a fait accompli.
For more on the end of Bibi’s restraint in Jerusalem, see this report from Mideast Monitor published 9/22: Netanyahu: Quickly start construction across Jerusalem