(JNS.org) Just a week ahead of the Israeli general elections, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to move ahead with construction in the E1 zone between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim, following the eviction of Palestinian protestors from the area on Sunday.
The E1 zone—short for East 1—is a 4.6 square mile area consisting mainly of rocky desert, located just east of Jerusalem.
Netanyahu originally announced plans for construction in the area in late November, after the Palestinians’ status upgrade at the United Nations.
Palestinian activists, with the support of the Palestinian Authority (PA), recently established a tent city in the area to protest the Israeli announcement. The Palestinians maintain that the area is essential for continuity of a future Palestinian state and their proposed capital in eastern Jerusalem.
Late Saturday, Netanyahu ordered the police to remove the protestors.
Despite opposition from Palestinians and the international community, Netanyahu told Israel’s Army Radio on Sunday that “we will complete the planning, and there will be construction.”
Israel argues that it will hold on to the E1 area in any peace agreement and compensate the Palestinians with land swaps. Israel needs the area in order to maintain a connection with the large Jewish commuter city of Ma’ale Adumim, which is east of the E1 zone.