Settlement Expansion in the Run-up to the Biden Inauguration:
Connecting the dots between recent announcements In the run-up to Joe Biden’s inauguration, Netanyahu has approved a large number of settlements and settlement-related schemes. A number of these schemes have emerged over the last 24 hours and have not been widely reported. It is difficult to imagine that these announcements and the ascendancy of a new administration are unrelated. None of these schemes could have taken place without Netanyahu’s knowledge and active consent.
- Inventory of recent announcements 1. Plans for new US embassy building 2. 830 units in West Bank settlements 3. Expansion of Gilo and Har Shlomo 4. Har Gilo and Har Homa 5. Givat Hamatos
- Connecting the dots: disconnecting East Jerusalem from Bethlehem
- Plans for new US embassy building On January 13, and upon the instructions of Netanyahu, the Jerusalem Local Planning Committee convened and reportedly approved construction at two alternate sites in Jerusalem: the site of the current consular facility at the Diplomat Hotel in Arnona, and the second, in the Allenby Compound along the Hebron Road (which in the past belonged to the Khalidi family waqf).
- 830 units in West Bank settlements On January 17, the Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration in the West Bank will convene to approve 830 units in the following settlements:
- Final approval for 500 units in Itamar, Shavei Shomron, and Oranit.
- 250 units in the illegal outpost of Nofei Nehama will be “legalized” (bearing in mind that all settlements beyond the Green Line are inherently illegal, and thus cannot be legalized in this manner).
- 100 units in Tal Menashe (not a final approval).
- “Legalization” of the illegal outpost of the Havat Yair farm.
- Expansion of Gilo and Har Shlomo In addition, in recent days the Jerusalem Regional Planning Committee approved expansion of the following Jerusalem settlement neighborhoods:
- 400 units in Gilo, on lands located beyond the existing built up area, on the border with Bethlehem. The construction reportedly goes beyond the existing footprint of the settlement neighborhood of Gilo, stretching southwards along the “tunnel road” towards the separation wall with Bethlehem. Consequently, this construction will contribute to the buffer being created between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem (we have yet to locate a map of the site).
- 130 units in the settlement neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. This settlement has special “sentimental” value to both Netanyahu and Biden: it was approval of plans in Ramat Shlomo that triggered a major confrontation between the two, during the Vice President’s visit to Jerusalem in March 2010.
- Har Gilo and Har Homa In October, prior to the US elections, the planning committees deposited two plans on Jerusalem’s southern flank:
- 560 units in Har Gilo West.
- 280 units in Har Homa West (Har Homa E).
- Givat Hamatos – Most importantly of all is the opening of the tenders for construction in Givat Hamatos scheduled on January 18 (deadline for the submission of bids). As we covered at length in our last report, construction of the Givat Hamatos settlement can still be avoided. However, once the tenders are awarded, the construction of the Givat Hamatos settlement will be virtually inevitable.