Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to end the de facto freeze on settler housing approvals by convening the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria, which has been dormant for the last eight months, according to settler reports.The move comes in the aftermath of a Channel 12 poll that showed Netanyahu’s Likud Party had dropped to 29 mandates, compared to the 36 mandates it had received in the March elections. It’s expected that the Higher Planning Council’s agenda would involve the advancement or approval of plans for 5,000 settler homes. News of Netanyahu’s decision was first reported by Channel 7 and confirmed by a settler source.The Civil Administration said that it has not yet received a request to convene the meeting.The council is under the purview of Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz. But earlier this month, Gantz clarified that he had been prevented from convening the council by Netanyahu, who has the final say on settler construction.Settlers have been concerned that in light of the normalization deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, planning for Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria would be frozen. The ability to continue settlement building is viewed as a litmus test with regard to the future application of sovereignty over West Bank settlements.Netanyahu had promised the settlers and right-wing politicians that he would apply sovereignty to the settlements soon after the formation of the government in May.Instead, he has suspended annexation in favor of the normalization deals. In the absence of annexation, settlers and right-wing politicians hold that settlement building should be normalized. All planning activities have been frozen, however.The Yesha Council and settler leaders have mounted a campaign against the freeze and had considered stiffening their campaign to include a protest tent outside the Prime Minister’s Office.Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan sent a letter to Netanyahu at the start of the week, demanding that he prove annexation was still on the table by advancing settler housing plans.“The news is gratifying because of the importance of continuing to build in Judea and Samaria, and because, despite rumors to the contrary, the system continues to work, and the prime minister has not put us in a freeze,” said Efrat Council head Oded Revivi on Thursday. “In order to prevent this unnecessary tension, it is the right move for Israel to adopt Judge Edmund Levy’s report and act immediately to apply Israeli law in the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.”The Yesha Council said that it was waiting until a date was published for the Higher Planning Council and agenda posted on the Interior Ministry’s website, before celebrating the news.