The Netanyahu government reportedly is going full-speed ahead although behind the scenes to develop the controversial E-1 area in Maaleh Adumim that would effectively give Israel a Jewish continuity to Jerusalem.
Peace Now alleged this morning that the government is planning 6,372 residential units in the area as part of a larger program for 55,548 new homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria, including a new community near Bethlehem and one in the Jordan Valley.
An Israeli official said that no final decision has made been concerning E-1, but it can be assumed that the official decision will come at the right time politically, perhaps when the Palestinian Authority is so illegitimate that Prime Minister Netanyahu can thaw the de facto building freeze.
Housing Minister Yoav Galant, of the Kulanu party, denied that plans are being made.
Peace Now alleged that the ministry allocated to Ma’aleh Adumim $9.5 million in November 2014, without issuing a tender, for planning the area. In addition, another $200,000 was allegedly paid to outline future construction sites east of Jerusalem as well as to expand other communities in Judea and Samaria.
Building in E-1 would be the Waterloo for the Palestinian Authority, while not developing it would be the same for Israel.
The Bush and Obama administrations have pressured Israel several times not to build in E-1, a 4.6-square mile area that has been designated for construction since the time that Yitzchak Rabin was Prime Minister in the 1990s.
It would be no surprise if the government is going ahead with building plans, in light of the decimation of the two-state proposal and the Palestinian Authority’s hard and fast position that there is nothing to negotiate with Israel unless it agrees to all of the PA’s political and territorial demands.
However, the publicity of the plans for construction is a red flag for the Palestinian Authority as well as for the Israeli left-wing camp. The Haaretz newspaper, which often acts as President Rivlin agent for Peace Now, reported Monday:
The Israeli fear is that without ‘facts on the ground’ in E-1, the giant settlement, which has some 40,000 residents, could end up an unviable Israeli enclave in a Palestinian state.
The newspaper quoted Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer, as saying that the documents detailing plans for E-1 and elsewhere in Judea and Samaria show that 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 bi-national state.