New tenders for the construction of a new neighborhood of 40 housing units in Givat Hadagan near the settlement of Efrat were issued last Thursday. Another tender for the construction of 277 units in the settlement of Ariel was issued at the same day. Last month the Ministry of Housing published a list of some 2,230 tenders that are planed to be issued in the near future. The 277 units in Ariel were on the list; however the 40 units in Givat Hadagan seem to be additional tenders that have not been on the announcement of the Ministry of Housing.
At the site of the new neighborhood near the Efrat settlement, called Givat Hadagan, the settlers have put up 40 caravans illegally in early 2000’s. The new tender will allow them to build, legally, permanent homes and to officially establish a new neighborhood.
The 40 housing units are part of a larger plan for approximately 500 units which is awaiting the approval of the Minister of Defense for marketing and construction.
Giva’at Dagan is located in a very sensitive area, one kilometer north of the built-up area of the settlement of Efrat. The establishment of the neighborhood will significantly expand the area which the settlement controls, and will bloc any potential development of the Palestinian town of Elhader, south of Bethlehem.
The new tender near Efrat is part of many efforts by the government to expand the settlement. In the list of planed tenders of the Ministry of Housing there is a tender for another 277 units in Givat Hazayit neighborhood in Efrat that should be issued soon. In addition, it was reported that the Ministry of Defense have approved the establishment of an agricultural farm at Giva’at Eitam, East of Giva’at Dagan, where there are plans for future construction of 2,500 units.
The developments in Efrat are a serious threat to the two states solution. Efrat is located east of the main road leading south of Bethlehem. Annexation of the settlement toIsraelwill cut off between the southern areas of the West Bank and Bethlehem and will bloc the potential development of Bethlehem to the south.