On December 20, 2018, a tender was published in an advertisement in the Israel Hayom newspaper on behalf of the Ministry of Housing (through an executive company called “Adi Hadar”) to carry out infrastructure work for “access roads and retaining walls at the site of Ariel South.” This is the kickoff of a new big expansion of Ariel. The area in question is south of the Ariel settlement in a place that has yet to be built, and which would expand the settlement considerably by hundreds of dunams. It should also be noted that within the area of the plan there are large enclaves of about 100 dunams of private Palestinian lands, that are excluded from the construction area but the access to them is limited or virtually impossible for the land owners.
In June 2017, the Higher Planning Committee approved Plan No. 130/8 for the construction of 839 housing units in “Ariel South.” Shortly afterward, with the procedures for promoting the construction having progressed relatively quickly, tenders for the construction of those 839 units were published in January 2018 and May 2018, and now, as stated, a tender has been published to begin construction of the infrastructure. Although the tenders for the housing units were published, the date of the actual opening of the bids for proposals has repeatedly been delayed by the Ministry of Housing. Usually the stage of beginning of infrastructure works is not considered a new political step that should be noted, but in the case of this plan, its size and location, Peace Now sees it as a significant step, worth noting, toward the implementation of a critically harmful plan on the two states solution.
It should be noted that according to Adi Hadar’s website, preparations are being made for the construction of approximately 1,300 new housing units. We don’t know yet if these are in additional plans to be approved in the future or are approved plans we have not yet heard of.
Peace Now: The Netanyahu government has not stopped working tirelessly to destroy the chances of a two-state solution, and here again is exploiting the election period. It is either reckless or shortsighted to promote the construction of thousands of new housing units in an area that Israel will probably have to evacuate under a permanent agreement. Despite the image of the Ariel settlement in Israeli public discourse, the chances are slim that it will be possible to annex it to Israel in a viable two-state agreement because of its location deep inside the West Bank.
watch how the Ariel settlement harms the continuity of a Palestinian state and the chances of reaching peace:
Although Ariel is not considered a “normalized” settlement in the Israeli discourse, the truth is that it lies 20 kilometers from the Green Line, in the heart of the West Bank, and it would be exceedingly difficult for Israel to annex as part of a land swap in a two-state agreement without severely undermining a viable Palestinian state and therefore the stability of such an agreement.
Furthermore, the government’s longstanding efforts to develop settlements leading to Ariel have severed access between Palestinian communities lying north and south of the main Route 5 highway, disrupting their lives and leading to a number of violations of the rights afforded to them under International Humanitarian Law.