Israel intended to expropriate Ma'aleh Adumim and integrate it with Jerusalem almost ever since the Six Day War ended, according to a new report published Wednesday by B'Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories and Bimkom, Planner for Planning Rights.
"Israeli governments have consistently related to Ma'aleh Adumim as territory intended to serve Jerusalem, even though its area has been under Israeli occupation since 1967 and despite the fact that international law and High Court of Justice judgments state that the occupying power is not allowed to exploit occupied territory for its own purposes," the two advocacy organizations charge.
The report states that an undetermined amount of the 48,000 dunams of land expropriated by the government was owned privately by Palestinian farmers.
Unlike any other early Jewish settlement in the West Bank, the government expropriated the land for Ma'aleh Adumim rather than requisitioning it on security grounds, it continues.
The reason for this, the authors wrote, was that land requisitioned by a military occupying power must eventually be returned to its owner, whereas land expropriated by the state is permanently owned by the state. From the very beginning, they conclude, the government knew it intended to keep Ma'aleh Adumim.
Israel began the process by expropriating 4,500 dunams of land for an industrial area at Mishor Adumim. Then attorney-general Meir Shamgar said such an expropriation would be legal because an industrial area could serve the entire civilian population, including the Beduin living in the area.
Immediately afterwards, however, the government expropriated another 30,000 dunams, the most westerly part of which later became the built-up area of the town, which currently has a population of 34,100.
In the meantime, the state expropriated another 13,000 dunams, making the entire area known as Ma'aleh Adumim a total of 48,000 dunams.
Furthermore, the route of the security barrier around the city includes another 17,500 dunams on the Israeli side, beyond the official boundaries of Ma'aleh Adumim.
The authors added that some of the services in Ma'aleh Adumim were earmarked from the very beginning to serve Jerusalem. These include a cemetery (which was later nixed), the Mishor Adumim industrial center and a garbage dump.
They conclude, "All actions taken by Israel in the area since the 1967 War were intended to complement the expansion of Jerusalem's municipal boundaries and to extend de facto its eastern border even beyond the official city border line."