Israel will allow building tenders for 1,000 new homes in Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria (Shomron) during the first months of talks with the Palestinian Authority, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reportedly told United States Secretary of State John Kerry.
According to Haaretz, Netanyahu revealed his plans to allow the tenders to Kerry in a recent meeting.
The paper quoted three senior Israeli officials who are involved in negotiations. The three asked to remain anonymous.
They said Netanyahu may publish the new tenders as early as Sunday, in parallel to a government vote on the release of 82 PA Arab terrorists imprisoned in Israel.
Previous reports have suggested that Netanyahu will allow some building tenders in the region in order to soften criticism over his agreement to release terrorist murderers.
Netanyahu also hopes to make it clear that he has not agreed to a full ban on construction in Judea and Samaria, as a construction ban could put his coalition at risk. Leaders of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) faction, the third-largest faction in Netanyahu's government, have expressed strong opposition to the idea of a new building freeze.
Roughly 360,000 Israelis live in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley, not including hundreds of thousands who live in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the 1949 cease-fire line, and population growth in Israeli communities in the region is higher than anywhere else in the country. Leaders have warned of a serious housing shortage in the region following an earlier construction freeze that was not successful in its attempt to encourage the PA to negotiate.