Israel unfreezes West Bank E1 plan, hearings for settler homes resume

The US has objected to the plan, which was first put forward when former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was in office.

 View of Route 1, the Maaleh Adumim-Jerusalem road, from the West Bank area known as E1, with Jerusalem's Mount Scopus seen on the horizon, on December 10, 2019. (photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
View of Route 1, the Maaleh Adumim-Jerusalem road, from the West Bank area known as E1, with Jerusalem's Mount Scopus seen on the horizon, on December 10, 2019.
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)

Israel is set to resume the advancement of plans for a controversial West Bank settler project of 3,412 homes known as E1, which it had frozen under pressure from the United States.

The Civil Administration has set a July 18 date to continue the objections process, after suspending the hearing in January.

The objections phase is the last step the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria needs to take before granting the plan its final approval.

The housing project is located within the Ma'aleh Adumim settlement, just outside of Jerusalem. The Right believes that the continued expansion of that West Bank Jewish city is important to safeguard a united Jerusalem. The Ma'aleh Adumim municipality views the project as a lifeline for its city which is in need of new housing.

 Ambassador Tom Nides in his office at the US Embassy in Jerusalem.  (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Ambassador Tom Nides in his office at the US Embassy in Jerusalem. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The Left and the international community believe that the project would harm the viability of a future Palestinian state. 

The US has objected to the plan, which was first put forward when former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was in office. 

The plan has largely remained frozen as a result of US pressure. The European Union has also persistently warned Israel that execution of the plan crosses a red line.

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides had taken credit for the suspension of the project when he spoke at an event by the left-wing group Peace Now earlier this year, stating: "I went full board on E1.... It is a very important area which if [built] could cut off any possibility of a capital for the Palestinians.”

Israel's decision to resume the bureaucratic process for the plan's approval follows an appeal the Ma'aleh Adumim municipality had filed to the High Court of Justice over its suspension. In light of the hearing date, the municipality has withdrawn its plan.

Peace Now said that "the prime minister and the minister of defense can and must freeze this plan so that the Israeli interest is safeguarded and a wrong prevented."