MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: MOVING PALESTINIANS APART – Government to move ahead with plans for 3,500 housing units in strategic E1 area

Civil Administration subcommittee to convene on July 18 to discuss opposition from left-wing organizations and Palestinians to construction in the strategic area between Jerusalem and the suburb of Maaleh Adumim.

Efrat Forsher ISRAEL HAYOM 06-01-2022

A Civil Administration subcommittee will hold a final meeting in July to discuss objections submitted by Palestinians and left-wing organizations to construction in the area known as E-1 between Jerusalem and the suburb of Maaleh Adumim. This is according to a statement from the State Attorney’s Office in response to a petition from Maaleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel to the Jerusalem District Court demanding the committee meet.

The final meeting of the Higher-Planning Committee’s subcommittee for objections, which had been postponed for the past six months, will be held on July 18, following US President Joe Biden’s Israel trip, Israel Hayom has learned.

The E-1 plans, which have garnered significant opposition from the international company for years, include the construction of 3,500 housing units on nearly five square miles of land between Maaleh Adumim and Jerusalem, which was declared Maaleh Adumim municipal territory in 1998. Maaleh Adumim has 38,000 residents. The plan promoted decades ago in coordination with the Housing Ministry is aimed at meeting the housing demand in the city.

The committee has held three meetings in October and November 2021 since the government decided to promote the move last summer. This drew sharp criticism from left-wing parties in the coalition, and in January of this year, the Maaleh Adumim Municipality received notice the meeting to discuss objections on the planned construction had been postponed “in accordance with the opinion of certain elements in the Civil Administration.”

With no specific reason for the delay, settler officials believe the move was the result of pressure on the government not to hold the controversial meeting.

Kashriel welcomed the discussion, saying the plan was good news for young families. “The cancellation of the deliberations that followed the whims of certain elements in the Civil Administration harmed the ability of Maaleh Adumim to continue to develop and serve as a home for young men and women who want to raise their families in the city.”

In a statement, the right-wing Ad Kan organization said: “We congratulate the Defense Minister [Benny Gantz] for setting a date for deliberations. This is strategic construction to thwart Palestinian continuity between Bethlehem and Ramallah, which in practice prevents the possibility of turning Jerusalem into the capital of Palestine.

After many long years, the Israeli government must lead to a full and speedy approval procedure, so that construction in the neighborhoods will begin in the next two years. In this manner, it will stop the [Palestinian] Authority’s invasion attempts into the planned neighborhood lands, which can already be seen on the ground.

“We call for law enforcement officials to carefully enforce the law in planned neighborhoods to remove the Palestinian invasions into state lands in the area.”

In a statement, the left-wing organization Peace Now said the construction plan “harms Israeli interests and constitutes a genuine threat to there being a chance for peace. That is why it drew sharp condemnation in Israel and in the international community.”

Peace Now asserted Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s coalition government “is promoting [Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s destructive policy instead of promoting a better future for the region. The use of the legal excuse according to which it’s been forced on the government is a pathetic excuse that cannot hide the government’s shame.”