Tonight, February 2, 2017 Minister of Housing Yoav Galant announced the issuing of 2,086 tenders for housing units in West Bank settlements. While the Ministry of Housing is the body responsible for the issuing of tenders, each decision on tenders in the West Bank must be signed first by the Minister of Defense. Indeed, by looking at the data, it seems that the tenders announced by Galant today correspond to the ones from Netanyahu and Lieberman’s announcement from a couple of days ago:
Again, this is an announcement, not the actual issuing of the tenders, but we expect the issuing to take place very soon. Regarding the remaining of the housing units from the January 31st announcement, it is still unclear whether these are for tenders or for plans and when they will be promoted. Settlement Watch will be monitoring developments and updating when new information becomes available.
Peace Now: “Netanyahu must not let the two state solution be the causality of his fight for political survival. Yesterday’s announcement include the promotion of housing units deep in the West Bank and in highly problematic areas for a future agreement. In order to satisfy his settler constituency and divert public attention away from his investigations Netanyahu is compromising the future of Israel.”
Netanyahu Announces a New Settlement for The Amona Settlers
During the evacuation of the illegal outpost of Amona, and after the High Court ruled the settlers will not be able to move to nearby absentee property, Netanyahu announced a new West Bank settlement for the Amona settlers, to be establish in the near future. Given the short timeframe, it is possible that the settlement is in fact Shvut Rachel B, the new settlement exposed by Peace Now in October of last year. However, Shvut Rachel B is likely to be, at least officially, a “neighborhood” of Shilo, despite of the 2km drive between the two. Thus, it is possible that Netanyahu is speaking about a new settlement altogether, to be established through a government decision.
If this is the case, this could constitute the first time Israel decides to build a new settlement and announces it through a government decision since 1992.
While the government did establish new settlements since then, it either referred to them as “neighborhoods” of existing settlements, or had done so when it was unable to retroactively legalize an illegal outpost as a “neighborhood” of an existing settlement, meaning the distance to the nearest settlement was too far to do so.
Needless to say, many illegal outposts have been established since 1992 without government permission. In recent years 35 of them have been retroactively legalized, mainly as “neighborhoods” but in rare cases also as new settlements, as mentioned above.