Peace Now: Israel planning over 55,000 new homes around Jerusalem, E-1 areas


The Israeli organization claims one section of development east of Jerusalem would divide Arab continuity of the West Bank for a future Palestinian state.

By i24news


Israel is working to revive and extend plans for new Jewish settler homes in the E1 area of the West Bank, the Peace Now organization said Monday.

Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem — such as Har Homa which was originally built in the 1990s — are considered to be in breach of the Oslo accords by the Palestinians but not by Israel, which does not see east Jerusalem as occupied territory. – Photo: AHMAD GHARABLI /AFP/FILE

Peace Now is an Israeli organization that actively campaigns for a two-state agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

In a report based on 200 pages of government data obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, the group said the housing ministry was seeking to build 55,548 units in the West Bank — including two new settlements — of which more than 8,300 homes would be in.

The housing ministry spokeswoman could not be immediately reached for comment on Monday.

E1 and the adjacent Maaleh Adumim settlement form an Israeli buffer east of Jerusalem that the Palestinians say would divide the West Bank and badly hurt the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state.

“The area of Maale Adumim and E1 is one of the most sensitive areas in terms of the chances for two state solution,” Peace Now wrote.

“For these reasons, whenever an Israeli leader tries to promote the plans in E1, the international community strongly condemns them.”

A Palestinian boy watches over camels in front in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim near Jerusalem August 7, 2008. – Photo: AHMAD GHARABLI /AFP/FILE

“A Palestinian boy watches over camels in front in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim near Jerusalem August 7, 2008.”

The United States, the United Nations and the European Union oppose all Israeli settlement building but have voiced particular concern about plans for E1.

According to the Israeli news site The Times of Israel, Housing Minister Yoav Galant on Monday denied any plans to build in E1.

Additionally, the report said that a number of illegal Israeli outposts are due for retroactive legalization and that the Ministry of Housing allocated at least 1.8 million NIS ($464,000) to local settlement authorities to fund campaigns to encourage Israelis to move to settlements.

In 2013, faced with international pressure, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vetoed construction of some 1,200 homes there but Peace Now said the housing ministry has hired architects to prepare fresh blueprints.

“This planning, which contradicts any possible commitment to a two-state solution, continues,” said Monday’s report, although it added that the plans could be years from fruition.

“They must be approved by the minister of defense and then go through the approval process of the planning authority,” the report said.

US-backed peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel collapsed in April 2014 amid bitter mutual recriminations.

A chief grievance of the Palestinians was settlement building on land they claim for a future state.

“The continued settlement growth raises honest questions about Israel’s long-term intentions and will only make separating from the Palestinians much more difficult,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a speech in Washington on December 6.

The Israeli daily Maariv said that leader of the left-wing Meretz party, Zehava Galon on Monday urged Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to order illegal outposts to be dismantled. She continued to describe illegal outposts as a “breeding ground for hilltop youth and [Jewish] terror activities.”

Today, some 380,000 Israelis live in 135 West Bank settlements, with another 200,000 in east Jerusalem.


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