Land Administration announced late Monday that it was accepting bids from contractors to build 1,213 new housing units in east and north Jerusalem.
Leftists groups have denounced what they call new plans for construction beyond the Green Line,
while the Housing Ministry insists that the government decided on the units in October 2011, and that the tenders were delayed by a bureaucratic process.
The five tenders that were announced Monday apply to construction in the Ramot and Pisgat Zeev neighborhoods.
The Ir Amim Organization, which promotes Israeli-Palestinian coexistence in Jerusalem and opposes construction in the capital's east, said that the announcement brings the total number of housing units that were put up for bid in east Jerusalem this year to 2,386 – the highest number in a decade.
Yehudit Oppenheimer, the executive director of Ir Amim, blasted the move.
"While the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
is making unprecedented declarations that reflect his commitment to the peace process," she lamented, "we continue to build beyond the Green Line, even though it defies the international community and isn’t within the public's interest."
She further asserted that "The new tenders indicate that (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu's
government has turned its back on the peace process."
Oppenheimer said that no matter which president is elected in the US, continued construction beyond the Green Line will deepen the rift between Jerusalem and Washington, "and the entire Israeli public will lose out."
The Housing Ministry said in response that the government had decided on the tenders in October 2011, after the Palestinian Authority applied for UNESCO
According to the ministry, the details of the housing tenders have been worked out over the past year, and were finally posted on the Land Authority's website on Monday.
"These tenders aren't new, and the political organizations have dealt with them in the past," the ministry said, noting that the Ramot lot is located directly on the 1967 border, in an area that never belonged to Jordan.