In a dramatic announcement ahead of the scheduled resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in Jerusalem this week, the Housing and Construction Ministry issued tenders on Sunday for the construction of more than 1,000 new housing units in east Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs, despite vocal U.S. opposition to continued construction beyond the 1967 borders.
The announcement comes as a ministerial committee began meeting to authorize the release of 26 pre-Oslo Palestinian prisoners, and was seen by some as “sweetening the pill” of such a painful prisoner release.
According to reports in Haaretz and Walla! News, American officials as well as the Palestinian Authority knew about the planned construction announcements, which Israel informed them would happen in tandem with the release of Palestinian prisoners.
The tenders published on Sunday, applying to housing units already in advanced planning stages, were posted on the Israel Land Authority website.
Four hundred apartments will be marketed in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, an additional 210 apartments in the nearby Homat Shmuel neighborhood and another 183 in Pisgat Zeev, for a total of 793 new housing units in Jerusalem.
A further 117 housing units are to be built in Ariel, as are 149 in Efrat, 92 in Maaleh Adumim and 36 in Beitar. In total, 394 housing units are in the works for the large settlement blocs.
Read more at Israel Hayom.