A girl holds an Israeli flag on a hilltop near the Maaleh Adumim settlement.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to visit the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement on Tuesday amid pressure from rightwing politicians to market new homes and advance new building projects.
It will be at least his third visit in the last eight years to the West Bank Jewish city located just outside of Jerusalem.
Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel said he invited Netanyahu so that the premier would better understand the issues facing its 38,000 inhabitants, including frozen building projects.
“I want the prime minister to see how it looks and to hear what is happening in our city, particularly with the building,” said Kashriel.
He added that he also plans to ask Netanyahu to support the campaign to place the city under Israeli sovereignty.
The prime minister will not visit the controversial E1 area. Plans to double the size of the city by constructing some 3,500 homes there have been frozen for the last 12 years.
Kashriel said he and the prime minister will stand at a lookout point and observe E1.
He will also ask Netanyahu for help to support the expansion of hi-tech industry and to build better access roads between his city and Jerusalem.
The visit is at least the fifth trip Netanyahu has made to the West Bank since US President Donald Trump took office in January. Netanyahu has traveled to the West Bank more times this year than at any time since he took office in 2009, including during the two subsequent election periods.
So far, in 2017 Netanyahu has visited the cities of Ariel and Betar Illit and also delivered speeches at two jubilee celebrations in the Samaria and Gush Etzion regions, marking 50 years of the settlement movement.
Each time he has pledged his allegiance to the continued development of the region, which the Palestinians contend is part of their future state.
But while settler leaders and right-wing politicians have lauded his visits and applauded his words, they have also taken him to task for not doing enough to support settlement building.
Netanyahu has touted his record of authorizing 3,000 building tenders and advancing plans for 5,000 homes as proof that his leadership is the best one possible for the settlement movement.
But settler leaders have focused more on the lack of a date for the next meeting of the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria, which last convened in June.
Its September meeting was delayed, due to a visit by Trump’s envoys Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner. An alternative date has yet to be set for October.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has already stated that the council will advance plans for 3,000 units.
But settlers want Netanyahu to also publish tenders for building, something he has already said behind closed doors he will not do this year, as a result of pressure from the US. The only exception to this Netanyahu has said he will make is tenders for 300 units for Beit El, promised to them five years ago in exchange for the peaceful evacuation of 30 homes in the Ulpana outpost in 2012.
Settlers also want to see tenders for homes for the 50 Migron families whose outpost was destroyed that same year.
The settlers’ list of projects to be advanced includes 31 new homes in Hebron on Jewish- owned property.
In addition, settler leaders have pleaded with Netanyahu to approve new roads and infrastructure in the West Bank.
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Kashriel and businesspeople from the nearby Mishor Adumim Industrial park, which employs both Israelis and Palestinians.
He will also attend a Likud faction meeting that will be held in the Moshe Castel Museum of Art.