Israel's E1 Building Plan: The Most Strategic, Consensual - and Frozen - Project

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Nadav Shragai - The plan to link the city of Maale Adumim (pop. 40,000) to Jerusalem by building housing units in the E1 area, a proposal backed by nine Israeli prime ministers, has been frozen for 28 years because of U.S. and European opposition. The E1 plan covers an area of 12 square kilometers of state land. In April 1994, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave the mayor of Maale Adumim the documents for the annexation of E1 to his town. The central claim of the plan's opponents is that building E1 will obstruct Palestinian continuity of building and traffic between Ramallah and Bethlehem, from north to south. Yet Israel wants to preserve continuity from west to east, between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim, leading to the Dead Sea and the Jordanian border. There has been large-scale illegal Palestinian building between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem along the Jerusalem-Jericho road and in the E1 zone itself for many years. This illegal activity - conducted in Area C under Israeli civil and security control - has already significantly narrowed the corridor through which the main traffic artery runs between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim. The international community has worked to thwart measures to stop the illegal building in the area. Often, the Europeans themselves are involved in illegal construction activity in Area C. Israel is offering the Palestinians a solution to maintain transportation continuity between the northern and southern West Bank by the use of a road to link these areas, providing the Palestinians free movement from the Ramallah area to the Bethlehem area. Israel's need for strategic depth, as an aspect of defensible borders, is now recognized by most Israeli security and military professionals. In case of the reemergence of an eastern front that threatens Israel, the area between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem - and further eastward, toward the Dead Sea - is essential for Israel's strategic depth. The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center, is a veteran Israeli journalist.

2022-06-13 00:00:00

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