Ma’aleh Adumim mayor: E1 doesn't threaten peace

Kashriel calls on EU envoys to visit controversial tract of land; activist says building in area "fatal heart attack of 2-state solution."

E1 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
E1 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel invited European ambassadors to visit E1 and see for themselves that building on that tract of state land within the West Bank city’s municipal boundaries won’t harm the creation of a Palestinian state.
“I do not know why the nations of Europe prefer to listen to lies,” Kashriel told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
He spoke out as Britain, France, Spain, Denmark and Sweden summoned Israeli ambassadors stationed in their country and urged them not to allow the building plans for 3,500 apartment units in E1 to be deposited. The US, Russia and Germany also condemned the move as threatening the two-state solution.
Palestinians want E1 to be part of their state and have long argued that Israeli building there would make territorial contiguity with the rest of their territory, particularly east Jerusalem, impossible.
On Sunday, Israeli attorney and activist Daniel Seidemann told a visiting delegation of Americans for Peace Now, that E1 “is not just another settlement. E1 is the fatal heart attack of the two-state solution.”
A built-up E1 would drive a wedge between Jerusalem almost down to the Jordan Valley, Seidemann said.
“It would dismember any potential future Palestinian state, no contiguity except perhaps by means of an umbilical cord,” he continued, adding that E1 has been perceived as a strategic meta-settlement that would make the two-state solution impossible.
But Kashriel said that such objections about E1 were not true.
“I invite all the ambassadors to come and to see the situation with their own eyes. I will take them up on a helicopter. I will drive them in a jeep to show them that E1 does not connect to Jerusalem,” Kashriel said.
His office, he said, is preparing material that illustrates this point. He has also invited the Foreign Ministry to visit, so that it can have a better understanding as well.
Construction in E1 is vital for securing the future of his city, Kashriel said, because it is the only remaining large empty tract of land on which new homes can be built.
Palestinians object to building in E1, because they object to the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, which they also believe should be part of their state, Kashriel said. Israel has no intention of giving up Ma’aleh Adumim, and that as a result there is no reason to halt construction in E1, he said.
Kashriel added that E1 is located on state land and not used by Palestinians.
Every prime minister since Yitzhak Rabin has promised to build in E1, but none have made good on that pledge, he said.
The Ma’aleh Adumim mayor remains hopeful that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will finally authorize the construction.
He noted that there is likely to be a delay of a year before final plans are approved, and that he is simply waiting for the green light from the Defense Ministry to deposit the plans – a move that could happen sometime this week, when the Judea and Samaria Planning Committee is expected to meet.
But the committee has yet to publicize its agenda, and it is unclear if it will take up the issue of E1.
The 12,000-dunam tract of land is located on the opposite side of the highway from the rest of the city. The land is mostly empty; aside from camels, gazelles and a few trees, there is only a paved road that winds its way up an empty hill toward a regional police station.
According to B’Tselem, plans for E1 would cut off part of Route 437, which is the sole access road for Palestinians who travel from the northern part of the West Bank to the southern part, and would also isolate Palestinian neighborhoods of east Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. Construction of E1 would also harm Palestinian Bedouin communities that live in the region and use part of the land, B’Tselem said. It added that Palestinians own 775 dunams of E1.
According to B’Tselem, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria is already looking to expel more than 1,000 Bedouins from that area.
Hagit Ofran of Peace Now said that the combination of a built-up E1 and Jerusalem municipal plans to build a park on the slopes of Mt. Scopus near that area, would both trap east Jerusalem Palestinians and prevent the growth of those neighborhoods.