Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Most specifically and effectively, the area known as E-1 must be built up with its 3,500 planned housing units, in accordance with previous government decisions. If not, the consequences could be catastrophic: Maaleh Adumim (population: over 40,000) would find itself a Jewish enclave surrounded by PA-populated territory, and Jerusalem would revert to its pre-’67 status, totally closed off on the east.

Every day that E-1 is not built up is a twofold loss for Israel, because massive illegal Arab construction continues in the vicinity nearly unabated. “If I do not build one building, I lose two buildings,” to paraphrase a rabbinic teaching.


In the face of expected massive international diplomatic pressure, it is not surprising that the Israeli government appears to be reluctant to arise and take action. Prime Minister Netanyahu even said, just days after announcing his intention to develop E-1, that he was not about to embark on actually “building” E-1, but merely that zoning and planning the neighborhood would continue to its next stage.

The fear of international pressure is not groundless. The recent decision to earmark 4 square kilometers (1.5 square miles, or almost 1,000 acres) in Gush Etzion brought about a tsunami of international condemnation. Even within Israel, criticism was rampant: “Now is not the time to make such a move,” said Finance Minister Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party.

OK – so when is the right time? When is it the right time for a sovereign country – one that has arguably behaved more responsibly than any other country in the world, given the threats it faces – to take the steps it must to protect its vital interests? If Gush Etzion must remain Jewish, and it must, then how much more so must Jerusalem. Just as the Netanyahu government awoke to its national, demographic, and historic responsibilities in Gush Etzion, so must it do the same regarding Maaleh Adumim and the eastern borders of Yerushalayim, its capital city.

The Jerusalem municipality has approved 2,200 Arab housing units – while Jewish housing in eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods is frozen solid. If now is not the time to approve housing for Jews in Yerushalayim, when is?


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Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel's minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel is the former senior editor of Arutz-7. For bus tours of the capital, to take part in Jerusalem advocacy efforts or to keep abreast of KeepJerusalem's activities, e-mail [email protected].