Israel extended on Monday the deadline for the contentious Givat Hamatos project, that involves the creation of a new neighborhood in an area of east Jerusalem that borders the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved this project during the last election cycle to underscore his commitment to a united Jerusalem.
The Palestinians and the international community have argued that the project helps cement an already existing wedge in that area of the city, between Palestinian neighborhoods and Bethlehem.
The Ministry of Housing and Construction published an initial tender for 1,077 housing units in February. It’s opening date was May 3 to June 20. The new tender will run from. August 2 to September 7.
The Israeli left-wing NGO Peace Now that opposes the project denounced the extension of the tender and called on Alternate Prime minister and Defense minister Benny Gantz to put a halt to the project.
“Promoting construction in Givat Hamatos is a dangerous step that could ultimately cripple the prospect of peace and a two-state solution. Netanyahu polished the [original] tender while in a probational government without a mandate. The new government must abolish this disaster and stop the tender. It is sad to see that parties in the government which received the votes of the peace camp are giving a hand to mone this plan along instead of to annul it for the sake of Israel’s future,” Peace Now said.
Under US President Donald Trump’s plan the new neighborhood would remain part of sovereign Israel. The Palestinians hold that it is part of their future capital and hold to a plan that would involve the withdrawal of Israel to the pre-1967 lines, including from Givat Hamatos.