Haaretz reports on a massive expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank which reporters Chaim Levinson and Barak Ravid describe as “unprecedented” in recent years. Peace Now Director Yair Oppenheimer says the new tenders reveal Israel’s intention in the occupied territories, regardless of whatever negotiations are taking place.
The [peace] talks are only for show. Behind the scenes, the government plans to destroy all chance of the two-state solution and flood the area with new settlements. The issue of the tenders is unequivocal evidence of Netanyahu’s intention of sabotaging the chances for an agreement.
The new tenders originally included over a thousand units in the E1 area which would connect Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem to the large settlement Ma’ale Adumim, effectively cutting the West Bank in half. President Obama has said that Israeli expansion in E1 “would be very difficult to square with a two-state solution,” and Netanyahu ordered a freeze on the E1 tenders after they were issued, apparently wanting to avoid even more confrontation with the U.S.
More from Haaretz:
The Housing Ministry has issued a tender to hire an architect to plan the construction of 1,200 housing units in the E1 area, which links Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim in the West Bank, as part of a larger wave of tenders to construct some 20,000 housing units in the West Bank at a cost of NIS 45 million.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was updated on the plan earlier Tuesday and shortly afterward ordered to freeze all construction plans in the E1 area. Officials in Netanyahu’s office told Housing Minister Uri Ariel that he must immediately halt the tender for selecting an architect to plan the project in E1.
The broader plan of some 20,000 housing units encompasses several urban areas, as well as the Binyamin Regional Council and Gush Etzion. This is an unusually large and unprecedented planning tender in the last decade. The tenders are for planning only – some are skeleton plans, some are in a general urban building scheme and others in a detailed urban building scheme.
Read the entire article here.