Erekat: West Bank E1 road start of annexation and apartheid

Palestinians and the international community have argued that E1 makes their future state non-contiguous and therefore unviable.

Peace Now Executive Director Shaqued Morag and Meretz Party head Nitzan Horowitz on E1. (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Peace Now Executive Director Shaqued Morag and Meretz Party head Nitzan Horowitz on E1.
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Israel’s intention to build a West Bank road between the E1 area and Jerusalem is the start of its “annexation and apartheid plan,” according to PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat.
He tweeted Tuesday about the road project, which Defense Minister Naftali Bennett advanced earlier this week to help enable the construction of 3,500 apartments in an unbuilt area of Ma’aleh Adumim known as E1.
Bennett spoke of the project as the “sovereignty road.” It would link the Palestinian village of az-Za’ayyem outside of Jerusalem with the neighboring villages and towns of Anata, Hizma and a-Ram.
The E1 bypass road would ensure easy Palestinian vehicular mobility without entering the E1 area.
Palestinians have argued that the road, which separates Israeli and Palestinian vehicular traffic, does not mitigate the harm caused by the E1 project. Israel sees the project as essential to the preservation of a united Jerusalem. Ma’aleh Adumim maintains that construction in the area is critical for the city’s future.
Palestinians and the international community have argued that E1 makes their future state noncontiguous and therefore unviable.
On Tuesday, Erekat published a map of the project and warned that it would “ultimately prevent Palestinian access from the southern part of the West Bank toward Jericho and the Jordan Valley to the east.”
He said east Jerusalem “is one critical area for Palestinian natural growth and economic development. Israel’s entire colonial project on the eastern gateway to Jerusalem will severely impact Palestinian aspirations for a socioeconomically viable capital in Jerusalem.”
Erekat and the PA maintain that a two-state solution must be enacted according to the pre-1967 lines, a move that would place east Jerusalem and all of the Ma’aleh Adumim bloc within the boundaries of a Palestinian state.
The Trump administration’s peace plan recognizes that most of east Jerusalem, except for the Arab neighborhoods on the other side of the barrier, are part of the State of Israel. It has also said Israel can annex all West Bank settlements, including Ma’aleh Adumim, and presumably E1.
The left-wing group Peace Now and the Meretz Party have rejected that plan in favor of a two-state solution at the pre-1967 lines. On Tuesday, Peace Now and Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz visited the E1 area to speak against construction of the road.
The current government “has no mandate to act,” Horowitz told The Jerusalem Post, calling it “an interim government.”
“Defense Minister Bennett published a plan to build a road here that would actually disconnect the north and the south of the West Bank,” he said. “This will be the end of the chance to have an agreement with the Palestinians on the two-state solution [at the pre-1967 lines.] This road that the temporary defense minister is about to build is illegal and destructive for peace. It should be prevented.
“It is part of a bigger plan to build in the E1 area and in [east Jerusalem’s] Givat Hamatos [neighborhood]. The purpose behind it is to disconnect east Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. For the two-state solution to come true – to have an agreement with the Palestinians – Jerusalem must be part of the solution,” Horowitz said.