Givat Hamatos Tender is Again Postponed

September 3, 2020
The date for the opening of the Givat Hamatos tender is once again postponed -  this time to November 2nd. The repeated postponement indicates the pressures facing the Israeli government to refrain from advancing the tender. On the other hand, the fact that the government time and again sets new dates for the opening of the tender instead of withdrawing it altogether, shows the government's determination to seize the opportunity  - once it appears - to open the tender that would lead to construction in the most strategic area of Givat Hamatos. If constructed, Givat Hamatos will isolate the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Safafa and will complete the disconnection of East Jerusalem from Bethlehem and the West Bank by built-up Israeli settlements.
The Israel Land Authority (ILA) announced a new date for the Givat Hamatos tender for the construction of 1,077 housing units. According to an ILA updated notice, the tender will open for bidding on November 2nd.
This is the second time since May that the opening of this tender has been postponed by the ILA. The tender (published on February 2020) was originally scheduled to open for bidding on May 3rd - which didn't occur.  In June, an updated date of August 2nd was announced, but that date too passed without the tender opening. In both cases no explanations were given by ILA as to why the tender did not open as planned.

Such recurring postponement of a tender is unprecedented. On the one hand, the delays are a sign that Israel is under strong  pressure not to open the tender -  which is seen as a red line by the international community; it may be that negotiations currently underway with Arab states under the auspices of the Trump administration are also a cause for the delay. On the other hand, the fact that Israel refuses to withdraw the tender and has repeatedly set new dates for its opening shows how determined the government is to begin construction in Givat Hamatos and therefore it is leaving the door open so that it can seize an opportunity once it feels able to do so. 

If constructed, Givat Hamatos will be the first new settlement in East Jerusalem in 20 years. It is located in an especially strategic area which has made it - along with E1 and Har Homa E - a red line for the international community: It will complete the encircling of the Palestinian neighborhood Beit Safafa by Israeli built up areas. It will also connect between the existing settlement of Gilo and Har Homa to creat e a contiguous Israeli built up area on the southern perimeter if East Jerusalem. This will disconnect East Jerusalem from Bethlehem and the south of  the West Bank.

Givat Hamatos is marked in red in the southern part of this map