Netanyahu Delays Publication of Building Tenders Until After Kerry Leaves

YERUSHALAYIM -

Deliberations on Ohr Somayach Building Plans Pulled

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has asked Housing Minister Uri Ariel to delay publication of tenders for the construction of 1,400 new housing units in Yehudah, Shomron and eastern Yerushalayim until after Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit, Haaretz reports.

Kerry was set to arrive in Israel on Wednesday for a series of meetings with Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and will remain in the region at least until Sunday.

Netanyahu announced last week that he planned to publish the new tenders after the third stage of the Palestinian prisoner release, which was carried out on Monday night. Tenders for construction were published after each of the first two stages of the prisoner release, as well.

Although the number of units and location of construction were leaked unofficially to the public, the actual contracting tenders have not yet been published by the Housing Ministry.

A senior official in Yerushalayim said that Netanyahu and Ariel have an understanding that the tenders will be published after Kerry’s visit: “Nobody has an intention of sticking a finger in Kerry’s eye,” said the official. “On this matter, there is full coordination between the prime minister and the housing minister.”

On Tuesday, the Yerushalayim Municipal Planning and Building Committee decided at the last minute to pull from the day’s agenda deliberations on the construction of a nine-story structure for the Ohr Somayach yeshivah in the predominantly Arab Yerushalayim neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. This move also seems intended to avoid raising U.S. ire over construction.

Ohr Somayach recently submitted the plan to the city’s local Planning and Building Committee. The building is planned for an empty lot, most of which belongs to the Israel Lands Authority, and is located behind a neighborhood gas station.

In addition to the nine stories, the new yeshivah building would also consist of three more floors underground, spanning a total of 9,615 square meters.