The E1 territory, located outside of Jerusalem and within the jurisdiction of the Ma'aleh Adumim settlement.
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not advancing the construction of E1 at this time and plans by former construction minister Uri Ariel to do so are irrelevant, government officials said on Tuesday evening.
They spoke in response to a Peace Now report which examined the actions of Ariel, of the Bayit Yehudi Party, who was construction minister from March 2013 to May 2015.
Based on a Freedom of Information requisition, Peace Now discovered that during his time in office, Ariel had created initial plans for 55,548 new homes in West Bank settlements. These included 8,372 new units in an unbuilt area opposite Ma’aleh Adumim known as E1.
Plans had already existed for 3,500 new homes on the mostly barred hilltop, dotted with olive trees and Beduin encampments.
For more than two decades, every prime minister has pledged to expand Ma’aleh Adumim by building in that area; but has always held off under pressure from the US.
The Palestinians have long claimed that E1 must be included in their future state and that failure to do so would make that state unviable.
Israel believes that E1 will be part of its final borders in an final-status agreement.
On Tuesday night US State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said, “Our concern about the E1 site in specific is well known. We oppose any steps to pave the way for settlement construction in E1.”
He added that such plans and continued settlement activity were “fundamentally incompatible with a twostate solution and call into question the Israeli government’s commitment to peace and the two state solution.”
Israel believes that settlement building is compatible with the peace process, particularly in areas to be included in Israel in any future peace settlement.
Located just outside of Jerusalem, Ma’aleh Adumim is the third largest Jewish city in the West Bank and already has a population of 37,404.
Still, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office dismissed Ariel’s plans for 55,548 new settler homes in Judea and Samaria.
“While he was serving as minister of housing in the previous government, Uri Ariel commissioned some theoretical plans for development in E1,” the PMO officials said. “He did so of his own initiative and without the required authorization. The Ministry of Housing has no authority either to plan or build beyond the Green Line. These plans therefore have no standing and are not binding on anyone.”
The Housing Ministry said of the plans, “During 2015 there were no activities what so ever on the E1 site.
“During 2014, the Ministry of Housing and Construction transferred funds to the local municipality intended for closing outstanding contracts with design teams, which were active during the years 2012-13,” the ministry spokeswoman said.
“At no time did the office proceed with housing plans on said site. All other activities, if such, proceeded according to the criteria and direct instruction of government,” the spokeswoman said.