Maaleh Adumim 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel called on Wednesday for the construction of the E-1 neighborhood in his settlement city after learning from the “Palestine Papers” that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had promised the US to freeze the project already in May 2009.
“I was amazed to read that you had secretly promised the US president and his secretary of state, [Hillary] Clinton, that Israel won’t build a new neighborhood in E-1,” Kashriel wrote in a letter he sent to Netanyahu.
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He further called on Netanyahu to demand that Defense Minister Ehud Barak advance construction in E-1, a mostly undeveloped area of 11.9 sq.km. located on the opposite side of Route 1 from the built-up parts of Ma’aleh Adumim.
Palestinians oppose E-1 construction, saying it would deprive any future state of territorial contiguity. The area, located just outside of Jerusalem, was first zoned for construction when Yitzhak Rabin was prime minister.
Since then, every prime minister has pledged to allow its construction but has failed to make good on his word.
Right before the Gaza withdrawal in 2005, then-prime minister Ariel Sharon advanced long-standing plans to build 3,500 apartment units in E-1, but didn’t authorize them, although he did allow for the construction of a regional police station at the site.
In September of that year, Ehud Olmert, who was then vice premier, told The Jerusalem Post that Israel had promised the US it would not build apartment buildings there. That didn’t stop Olmert from pledging to build in E-1 when he campaigned to be prime minister. It was a promise he never kept.
During his election campaign in 2009, Netanyahu visited E-1 and insisted that he would finally develop the area – a vow he has yet to fulfill.
According to a document from the Palestine Papers, Netanyahu promised the US he would freeze work in E-1 in May, when he met President Barack Obama less than two months after he became prime minister.
According to a transcript of a June 2, 2009 briefing that PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat held in Ramallah with his colleagues after returning from Washington, he reported that “Obama said he got Israel to commit to stop construction in E-1 but nothing yet on home demolitions.
“Mitchell said Obama was very tough with Bibi, Clinton said the same. The meeting with the Israelis did not produce anything besides the commitment to stop E-1 construction, but that is secret.”
Government sources would neither deny nor confirm that Netanyahu made any promises regarding E-1, other than to confirm that no building had taken place there since he took office.
The sources did say, however, that the Olmert government did give the US administration assurances that it would not build there.
In his letter to Netanyahu, Kashriel said that development of E-1 would
not affect a future Palestinian state. Its construction was important
for the natural growth of Ma’aleh Adumim, so that young couples could
build their future there, he added.
The letter is part of Kashriel’s ongoing battle to win approval for E-1
construction and for any other new building in his city, which is the
third largest Jewish community in the West Bank.
For the first time in the city’s history, it is out of new construction
tenders, and building there is expected to soon grind to a halt.
MK Arye Eldad (National Union) also attacked Netanyahu after hearing
about his E-1 pledge, stating that his promises were fraudulent and that
he was choking Jerusalem.Herb Keinon contributed to this report.