Former defense minister Shaul Mofaz called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to build in the controversial E-1 area between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim, despite American opposition, on a visit to the site on Thursday.
Mofaz, a candidate for Kadima's leadership, attacked Netanyahu from the right. Netanyahu visited E-1 ahead of the last two elections and vowed to build in the area, but he is now against it.
"The Israeli government must do everything possible to advance Ma'aleh Adumim as a city, and that includes giving the proper permits to Mevaseret Adumim," Mofaz said, referring to the neighborhood that would be built in E-1.
Currently, the only structure on the site is a police station, which Mofaz approved when he was defense minister in Ariel Sharon's government. Speaking on the edge of a hilltop near the police station, Mofaz boasted that he had also approved the expansion of Ma'aleh Adumim, and he would do so again if he became prime minister.
"The current government has no clear policies, so Netanyahu cannot even say what he is in favor of and against," Mofaz said. "I believe that Ma'aleh Adumim is in the heart of the Israeli consensus and it is in Israel's national interest to build there."
Mofaz rejected Palestinian arguments that E-1 would prevent them from driving between Jerusalem and the West Bank if a Palestinian state were created. He said he had built roads to fix the problem as transportation minister, and more could be built.
When asked about commitments to America and the settlement freeze, Mofaz stated: "There's no contradiction between building in Gush Etzion, Ma'aleh Adumim, Ariel and Efrat [and our commitments]. These places will create the eastern border of the State of Israel. We have to continue to build this area and provide better security and strategic depth for the State of Israel. The rest of the settlements that are not in the blocs - we should negotiate about the continuation of building there."