Ma'leh Adumim to petition court over Bennett freeze of E1

The Civil Administration had been in the midst of holding a series of hearings on objections to the plan when it informed the municipality in January that the process had been indefinitely suspended.

A general view of houses in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)
A general view of houses in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the West Bank
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)

The Ma'aleh Adumim settlement plans to petition the local Jerusalem administrative court over Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz's decision to freeze a 3,500 apartment unit project within its municipality known as E1.

They "did not have the authority to intervene," Ma'aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel said on Wednesday.

The Civil Administration had been in the midst of holding a series of hearings on objections to the plan when it informed the municipality in January that the process had been indefinitely suspended.

On Tuesday night US Ambassador Tom Nides was blunt about his efforts to halt the E1 plan. The United States has long opposed E1 believing that it would harm the viability of a two-state resolution to the conflict. It is rare, however, for a US official to speak so bluntly as Nides did about his efforts to thwart it

Nides told Peace Now, "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."

 US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides on December 2, 2021 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides on December 2, 2021 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The plan was first put forward by former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1994, simultaneous to his work on the Oslo Accords. The plan has move forward at a snail's pace given intense opposition from the US and the international community.

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had pushed the plan forward towards its final stage during the two-year election cycle.

The objection hearings were a preliminary step prior to a final approval. Bennett and Gantz have the authority to halt the plan. 

The Ma'aleh Adumim Municipality wrote a letter to both men in which it argued that they did not have the right to suspend the objections process. 

The administrative procedure was halted on orders from the highest echelon and not as a result of issues relating to the process itself, the municipality said in its letter. 

Kashriel said the municipality never received a response and as a result, it is now turning to the court.

Located just outside Jerusalem in the direction of the Dead Sea, the settlement is the third largest Jewish city in the West Bank with a population of 38,000.