Israel pushes ahead with E1 settlement project to 'cut West Bank in half'

Israel pushes ahead with E1 settlement project to 'cut West Bank in half'
The Israeli Civil Administration will next week discuss the E1 settlement project which will bisect the West Bank and could make Palestinian statehood impossible
3 min read
07 June, 2023
The E1 settlement project aims to link Ma'ale Adumim to Jerusalem and would bisect the West Bank from north to south [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

Israel's Civil Administration will hold a meeting next week to discuss the launch of a controversial E1 settlement project which if implemented, would effectively cut the West Bank in half.

The Israeli website Walla reported yesterday that Israel's Civil Administration (Israel's governing body in the occupied West Bank) plans to discuss the highly controversial and illegal E1 settlement scheme, which envisions the construction of thousands of housing units for Israeli settlers which will link Jerusalem to the Ma'ale Adumim settlement northeast of the city.

The E1 settlement would be the last link in a chain of Israeli settlements separating East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and would bisect the West Bank from north to south.

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Walla reported that public objections to E1 would be raised at the Higher Planning Committee (HPC - which is part of the Civil Administration) meeting at two hearings on Monday 12 June - a process which has been repeatedly scheduled and postponed due to international pushback.

The proposed E1 plan would spell a definitive end to any chance of a contiguous or viable Palestinian state due to the location of the proposed settlement and has been a plan of the Israeli government for the last two decades.

However, it has been postponed repeatedly due to fierce opposition from the US and the EU as it is considered fatal to the two-state solution.

I "The most extremist and dangerous government in the history of the country is eradicating all hope for a better future, after it's decision to [allow] return to Homesh settlement. And they are again spitting in the faces of our American friends, and this reflects continued harm to the security and political interests of the State of Israel," the Israeli group Peace Now said.

Peace Now said Netanyahu was taking these steps to appease settler leaders in the West Bank who are allies of Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who leads the extreme5-right Religious Zionism Party.

Walla reported that this is the first time the issue of E1 has been raised since the current right-wing Israeli government formed. It also highlighted the likelihood that reopening discussion on E1 could further exacerbate tensions between the Biden administration and Netanyahu’s government.

The US-Israel relationship has seen tension recently amid US criticism of Israel's planned judicial overhaul and other issues such as the Israeli Knesset recently passing a law repealing Israel's 2005 disengagement from parts of the northern West Bank.

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US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated at the 2023 American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) summit on 5 June: "Settlement expansion clearly presents an obstacle to the horizon of hope we seek," reiterating the official US position towards Israeli settlement expansion.

According to a 2021 report by the Institute of Middle East Understanding (IMEU), the area designated for E1 covers around 4.6 square miles upon which around 4,000 settlement housing units for Jewish Israelis will be built.

Hotels and an industrial zone are also planned and around 3,700 Palestinians will be threatened with forced displacement by the project.

This article is based on an article which appeared in our Arabic edition by Saleh an-Naami on 7 June 2023. To read the original article click here.