Israel Renews Massive Settlement Construction Plans in East Jerusalem E1

JERUSALEM, December 28, 2015 (WAFA) – Israel has renewed plans for massive settlement construction in controversial E1 area, located between the West Bank settlement bloc of Ma‘aleh Admumim and East Jerusalem, revealed Haaretz in a report.

The Israeli daily revealed that the Israeli government has advanced plans to construct 3,200 settler units in E1 area, located near Ma‘aleh Adumim settlement bloc despite the fact that construction tenders were cancelled in 2013.

Following international anger over settlement construction plans in the area, Israeli Prime Minister was then forced to cancel the tenders in 2013.

However, Haaretz revealed that Netanyahu has agreed to planning the new project as the move, according to the ministry, “meets criteria given by government order.”

The newspaper report reveals that Israeli Housing and Construction Ministry hired an urban planner in November 2014 at a cost of 3.6 million shekels ($925,000) to plan the construction of 3,200 housing units in the controversial area.

Construction in the controversial E1 area would effectively divide the West Bank into two separate northern and southern parts, making it impossible to create a geographically contiguous Palestinian state.

The report also reveals that successive Israeli governments since Yitzhak Rabin’s have sought to build in E1 to secure Ma’aleh Adumim’s contiguity with Israel proper if and when a Palestinian state arises.

“The Israeli fear is that without “facts on the ground” in E1, the giant settlement, which has some 40,000 residents, could end up an unviable Israeli enclave in a Palestinian state,” argued the newspaper.

Successive Israeli governments have advanced major plans to build in E1, including thousands of housing units, commercial space and hotels. A master plan and detailed planning for the area exist, but all of these plans have been delayed for political and diplomatic reasons since 2005.

Haaretz reveals that the Israeli Housing Ministry paid Ma’aleh Adumim 3.6 million shekels ($930,000) in November 2014, without a tender, for the planning. This allowed the ministry to quietly bypass the public tender process that in the past stirred up so much controversy, both in Israel and internationally.

According to the documents received by Peace Now, the ministry paid 1.8 million shekels ($465,000) to complete the construction plans for 2,000 housing units in the eastern side of the neighborhood, 1.8 million shekels ($465,000) to complete the detailed construction plans 1,200 housing units in its south, and 300,000 shekels ($77,000) to test the potentiality of constructing 1,000 housing units in the northern parts of the neighborhood.

In addition, 700,000 shekels were paid to identify further construction sites in the West Bank east of Jerusalem, which according to the Housing Ministry’s classification are located in ‘Non-specific site.’

The ministry has also funded plans to expand and turn small settlements into urban centers across the occupied West Bank.

Haaretz reported Director General of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, as saying that the documents show that Netanyahu has not kept his word and his government is continuing to secretly promote massive construction in the settlements, including in E1.

“The government of Israel is not wasting a single day and is investing tens of millions of shekels in expanding and establishing new settlements. Behind the scenes they are secretly planning the establishment of a binational state,” said Oppenheimer.

The Housing and Construction Ministry said it “acts only according to approved plans and based on the decisions of the government and prime minister.”