Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly set to greenlight a new settlement that critics claim will sever any remaining connection between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Citing a "well-placed government source", the Israeli NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem claimed yesterday that Netanyahu intends to reverse "his previous instructions to refrain from publishing the Givat Hamatos tenders" for 1,100 new housing units.
Givat Hamatos will be located in the southwest of occupied East Jerusalem, in between the pre-existing settlements of Gilo and Har Homa, replacing the latter "as the newest settlement to be built in East Jerusalem since 1997".
According to Peace Now, Givat Hamatos "will enhance the territorial continuity of Israeli settlements that create a buffer between East Jerusalem and Bethlehem".
The latest developments, as reported by Terrestrial Jerusalem, suggest the tenders "are likely to be published in the coming months"; the current delay "is no longer political, but rather is technical".
The NGO adds: "Our source indicates that the publication of the tenders is anticipated to take place in early 2018".
Until now, international opposition has held Netanyahu back from proceeding with the new settlement, "the plan for which was fully approved years ago".