Wednesday's ceremony opening new West Bank road.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel opened the first section of the Eastern Ring Road on the outskirts of Jerusalem on Wednesday, taking a further step to advance the E1 project in the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement.
Route 4370 will relieve traffic congestion east of Jerusalem and provide a new security checkpoint on the way to the city. When completed, the bypass will direct Palestinian traffic away from an existing road in the unbuilt area of E1 and facilitate uninterrupted Palestinian traffic between Bethlehem and Ramallah. It will also ease road congestion into Jerusalem from the Binyamin region, allowing Israelis to travel more quickly in and out of the capital.
As part of the project, the road also facilitates the establishment of an additional checkpoint at the entryway into Jerusalem and allows for increased security presence in that area.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that such police presence is a “guarantee of sovereignty” that “I hope will expand to all of Judea and Samaria.”
The project was carried out in conjunction with the Transportation Ministry, the Public Security Ministry, the Binyamin Regional Council and the Jerusalem Municipality.
In this first stage, which has cost NIS 30 million, the new road will be open from 5 a.m. to noon.
Binyamin Regional Council head Israel Ganz said that the new road “is no less than an oxygen pipe for the residents of Binyamin and the entire region.
“The development of the transportation system from Binyamin to Jerusalem is also of strategic importance for the city of Jerusalem,” Ganz said.
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion said that those who would benefit most directly are the residents of Pisgat Ze’ev and French Hill.
The road had been frozen for many years because of its connection to the E1 project, which Israel has failed to advance, due to international pressures.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revived work on the road in the last few years.
According to the left-wing NGO Ir Amim, the road was initially conceived by former prime minister Ariel Sharon to address the main international complaint with regard to the E1 project – namely, that it interrupted Palestinian contiguity in the West Bank.
The new road provides Palestinians with a direct access point between Ramallah and Jerusalem.
Ir Amim charged that the road also helps facilitate settlement growth, because it allows for a larger number of people on the road, and helps cement the right-wing concept of “Greater Jerusalem.”
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