European ambassadors hold Jerusalem meeting with Israel over E1 fears

Those who participated in the meeting were; Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

A view of the Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumim February 25, 2020. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
A view of the Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumim February 25, 2020.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
Fearful of the harmful impact the E1 West Bank housing project could have on the two-state solution, eight European ambassadors met with Deputy National Security Adviser Reuven Azar on Thursday in Jerusalem.
Ambassadors from Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom participated in the meeting.
After the meeting, German Ambassador to Israel Susanne Wasum-Rainer tweeted that she and her counterparts “stated their grave concerns about announcements of the Israeli authorities regarding new settlement units in the occupied West Bank & East-Jerusalem.”
She listed three projects in particular: a plan for 3,500 new homes in an unbuilt area of Ma’aleh Adumim, dubbed E1; and two Jewish housing projects in east Jerusalem – a new neighborhood in Givat Hamatos and the expansion of the Har Homa neighborhood.
Israel maintains that the E1 project, Givat Hamatos and Har Homa are necessary to ensure a united Jerusalem. Palestinians and the international community fear the projects doom the possibility of a two-state solution using pre-1967 lines.
The E1 project and Givat Hamatos were frozen under pressure from the Obama administration and have not been advanced during the last three years of the Trump administration.
All three projects are located in areas of Jerusalem and the West Bank that would be part of Israel under US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week pushed forward with all three construction projects, prior to the March 2 election. He made public statements about the projects that were followed by concrete actions.
The left-wing group Peace Now reported that two plans were submitted to the Civil Administration with regard to the 3,500 unit, which sets in motion a 60-day period for objections to be filed.
Yesha Council director-general Yigal Dilmoni tweeted a copy of the submission so that all those “who feared and worried” it would not happen could see that progress had occurred. But with regard to E1 and Har Homa, a lengthy bureaucratic process lies ahead.
Yesha Council head and Jordan Valley Regional Council chairman David Elhayani said the deposit was “a strategic victory for the State of Israel.”
In addition, a tender was published earlier this week for 1,077 Jewish homes in Givat Hamatos. Overall, the Givat Hamatos project would include 3,000 Jewish homes and 1,000 Arab ones. The Har Homa plan calls for an additional 2,200 Jewish homes.
On Wednesday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov issued a statement about the matter.
“All settlements are illegal under international law and remain a substantial obstacle to peace,” he said. “If the E1 plan were to be implemented, it would sever the connection between northern and southern West Bank, significantly undermining the chances for establishing a viable and contiguous Palestinian state as part of a negotiated two-state solution.”
“I urge the Israeli authorities to refrain from such unilateral actions that fuel instability and further erode the prospects for resuming Palestinian-Israeli negotiations on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements,” Mladenov said.
Peace Now reported that Defense Ministry officials met with planners last week to push expansion work on a bypass road for Palestinians to travel between the southern and northern parts of the West Bank without going through Ma’aleh Adumim. The northern part of that road was opened last year.
On Thursday, the IDF Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria advanced plans for 1,800 new settler homes.
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett used the opportunity to tout his record of supporting the settlements.