The Ministry of Housing published today (24/10/21) 13 new tenders for the construction of 1,355 housing units in the settlements and another tender for the construction of an additional 83 units in Givat Hamatos in East Jerusalem. These tenders are in addition to about 3,000 housing units in the settlements that will be promoted this coming Wednesday. A tender is the way in which the government selects contractors who will carry out construction on a government initiative, after the plans are approved. A publication of a tender means that the government wants to start construction.
The tenders published are: Beit El – 346 units; Adam – 96 units; Ariel – 731 units; Karnei Shomron – 22 units; Emanuel – 57 units; Elkana 102 units; Beitar Illit – one housing unit. 92% of the housing units in the tenders published today are in settlements deep in the West Bank that Israel will have to evacuate under a permanent agreement (according to the Geneva Initiative model).
Peace Now: Unfortunately, there is no longer any doubt that this government is not a government of change but rather a government of annexation. The commitment to a political status quo in settlements turned out to be a lip service on the way to continuing Netanyahu’s annexation policy. It is unfortunate to see how while the right is celebrating another step towards the total prevention of a Palestinian state, supporters of the two states within the government are silent. Labor and Meretz must wake up and demand an immediate halt to the construction rampage in the settlements that harms the prospect of a future political solution.
List of tenders published today (24/10/21):
There are three main (non-exclusive) parameters that examine Israel’s policy in the settlements:
Promotion of plans – plans that are approved by the planning institutions of the Civil Administration for construction in the settlements. Each stage of the planning process (approval of the deposit, publication of the deposit, approval of validation and publication of the validation) requires the explicit approval of the Minister of Defense. In this way the government has full control over the promotion of the plans and it can avoid it. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in planning, and in 2020, plans were advanced for 12,159 housing units. Since the formation of the new government on 13/6/21, no plans have been approved in the settlements, but this coming Wednesday about 3,000 housing units are expected to be approved. In addition, under the current government, the objections to the plan in E1 were discussed.
Tenders – Tenders are the housing units that the Ministry of Housing markets for construction. In most settlements, after a plan is approved, construction will depend on the private initiative of the settlement and the settlers (with the assistance and encouragement of the government). However in 13 settlements, mainly urban and large settlements, where construction is managed by the Ministry of Housing, there must be tenders for the selection of contractors before the construction may start. This is a direct initiative of the government that initiates and manages the construction. The government can avoid construction or even stop it after the winning bids were selected. In January this year, tenders were published for 2,112 housing units in the settlements; together with the 1355 units published today the number of tenders in 2021 (3,467 units) is the second after the record number of the tenders in 2018 (see graph below).
Construction starts – The number of housing units that begin to be built on the ground each year. Construction starts in the settlements are a result of previous government decisions and actions: approval of plans (which can be many years before actual construction takes place), and publication of a tender in the relevant settlements (usually about two years after the tender is published construction will begin in the area). The number of construction starts depends on market forces and the demand for construction in each settlement – which is influenced by government policy, by the infrastructure and road development, and the incentives provided to settlers. The government can control the construction starts in that it can prevent it or stop construction. It can prevent construction where the plans have already been approved, and it can prevent construction even in cases that the tenders were published. The government can even stop the construction after it has already begun on the ground, as was done in the past by the Rabin government.
It is important to note that Israel’s policy in the settlements is not only measured in quantitative indices (how many built or approved each year), but also in the location and nature of construction, the establishment of new settlements, paving roads and infrastructure, land expropriation, land allocation, lack of permits for Palestinians and house demolitions, construction of illegal outposts. Land takeover, legal changes and more.