Israel’s Civil Administration has once again postponed a meeting of its Higher Planning Council’s Subcommittee on Objections, meant to discuss the possible advancement of 3,412 housing units in the E1 (East-1) corridor east of Jerusalem.
The Civil Administration oversees civilian matters, including construction, within Area C of Judea and Samaria.
The new homes are slated to become a neighborhood in the city of Ma’ale Adumim in Judea. While the E1 area is often said to be located between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, it is actually located within the municipal boundaries of the latter.
Viewed merely as a bureaucratic formality before building plans in Judea and Samaria are advanced by the Higher Planning Council, the subcommittee meeting on the E1 project was originally scheduled for last September but was postponed until March 27. It has now been pushed off to June 12.
Various commentators believe the meeting was postponed due to commitments Israel made at the Feb. 26 summit in Aqaba, Jordan, where senior government officials representing Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, the United States and the host nation gathered with the goal of seeking “de-escalation,” following a wave of Arab terrorist attacks targeting Israeli civilians, and IDF military responses, throughout Judea and Samaria.
A U.S. Department of State communiqué published following that meeting indicated that Israel committed “to stop discussion of any new settlement units for 4 months” in order to “prevent deterioration and find horizons for peace.”
However, a day later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied that Israel had agreed to a construction freeze in Judea and Samaria. That denial was backed by National Security Council head Tzachi Hanegbi, who headed the Israeli delegation to Jordan and reiterated that there was no change in Jerusalem’s policy.
The Civil Administration spokesperson would not comment on the postponement of the subcommittee meeting and referred JNS to the office of Finance Minister and Minister within the Defense Ministry Bezalel Smotrich, who heads the Civil Administration.
Smotrich is currently in Washington. He delivered the keynote speech at an Israel Bonds gala on Sunday night, even as he was boycotted by many mainstream Jewish organizations. Smotrich’s office did not respond to JNS for comment by press time.
A spokesperson for the city of Ma’ale Adumim also declined to comment on the postponement of the subcommittee meeting.
According to a comprehensive study by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on E1:
“All Israeli governments since Yitzhak Rabin’s second tenure as prime minister in the 1990s have supported the [E1] program, appreciating the need to create an Israeli urban continuity from Jerusalem to Maale Adumim, leading out to the Dead Sea and the Jordanian border. That need is incorporated in the Israeli security and urban planning concept, which views Jerusalem and its nearby Jewish communities as a single metropolitan space—‘metropolitan Jerusalem.’ ”
The plan to link Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem has been frozen for nearly 30 years due to U.S. and European opposition. At the heart of the controversy is the competition between Israel and the Palestinians over the continuity of construction—east-west (Israel) or north-south (Palestinians).
For Israeli governments over the years, it is seemingly the most commonly agreed-on building plan for the territories. Who has praised it and proclaimed its strategic necessity? Yitzhak Rabin (in both governments that he headed), Benjamin Netanyahu in all his terms as prime minister, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Shamir, Ehud Olmert, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak. And yet, despite this, it has been frozen.