IDF to hold hearing on contentious E1 settler building project

Left wing organizations, as well as the international community, see the project as harmful to Palestinians, while the right sees it as a security insurance policy.

 View of the desert near Ma'ale Adumim, in the West Bank, January 26, 2021. (photo credit: YANIV NADAV/FLASH90)
View of the desert near Ma'ale Adumim, in the West Bank, January 26, 2021.
(photo credit: YANIV NADAV/FLASH90)

The Civil Administration is set to hear objections by left-wing NGOs to the contentious plan to construct close to 3,500 homes in the E1 area of the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim, located just outside of Jerusalem.

The plan has inched forward since 1994 despite intense opposition from the United States and Europe.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had allowed for the plan to be deposited in 2020, a move that brings the project close to the final approval stage.

Left-wing groups, including Peace Now and Ir Amim, have filed an objection to the plan, which only now are scheduled to come before the Civil Administration on Monday.

Ir Amim said that a second hearing has already been set for October 18.

The Palestinian Authority, the International community and the Israeli Left hold that the plan would harm contiguous Palestinian development in that area, rendering a Palestinian state unviable.

But the Israeli Right has rejected that characterization, saying that development of E1 is critical to ensure Israel’s hold on that territory and secure a unified Jerusalem.

The hearings would advance the project but would not be the final stage in the approval process.

Since taking office in May, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has spoken of the importance of continued settlement development and has pledged not to freeze settlement planning or building.

Ir Amim said construction of the project would be a “death blow” to the two-state solution. It warned that “implementation of the E1 plans would also lead to the displacement of the Bedouin communities living in the area, the most well-known of which is Khan Al-Ahmar.”

Peace Now called on Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to shelve the plan., saying Bennett has continued Netanyahu’s dangerous policies instead of leveraging the goodwill from his meeting in August with US President Joe Biden to secure a better future for Israelis.