The E-1 Plan
About 15,000 residential homes along with an area police station, an industrial zone, hotels, a waste disposal facility and a cemetery to be shared by Jerusalem & Ma’ale Adumim are planned.
The disputed E1 area, officially called Mevaseret Adumim, located in the Judean Desert and spans the area between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim. The land in question comprises about 12,000 dunams, which is roughly 12 square kilometers (4.6 sq mi).
If or when the E-1 plan is fully implemented Palestinians could, theoretically, travel between the northern Samaria and southern Judea via a road – that at this time does not exist – through the Judean Desert, looping around the Ma’ale Adumim bloc and the expanded area of Jerusalem whose outskirts would stretch nearly to Jericho. There have also been suggestions for an alternate road route for Palestinians running north-south between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem that uses overpasses and tunnels to bypass Israeli built-up areas (which already exists to some extent).
- However, the Palestinians have rejected Israeli offers to complete such a road.
- The E1 area is the only geographical connection remaining between Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in 1994,expanded the borders of Ma’ale Adumim significantly to include the area known as E-1. Rabin, however, refrained from implementing any construction in the E-1 area between Ma’ale Adumim & Jerusalem.
During the Netanyahu government, the Prime Minister attempted to expedite the E-1 Master Plan. A first statutory step to implementation of the plan, which includes general land designations but is not specific enough to allow the issuance of building permits, was undertaken, along with the establishment of a Greater Jerusalem umbrella municipality which was to include Ma’ale Adumim.
During the Barak government, the Prime Minister expressed support for E-1 but refrained from undertaking any construction in the E-1 area. Barak did place the issue of E-1 on the negotiating table at Taba and the matter remained unresolved when the Taba talks broke up.
In 2002, Minister of Defense Binyamin Ben-Eliezer signed the Master Plan for E-1 (expedited, but not approved under Netanyahu administration) into law. Ben Eliezer subsequently pledged to the U.S. administration not to implement the E-1 plan, and indeed no further statutory planning was carried out and there was no construction in E-1 during his tenure in office.
In mid 2004, construction commenced on infrastructure in E-1. The work was carried out by the Ministry of Construction and was illegal: in the absence of a Specific Town Plan, no permits could be or were issued to allow for this work. The work included the clearing of roads for major highways leading to the planned residential areas and site preparation for the planned police station (so that the police station in Ras Al Amud may be transferred to the settlers there, tripling their presence in the heart of that Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem).
In December 2012, in response to the UN approving the Palestinian UN bid for non-member observer state status, the Israeli government inner cabinet announced that it approves the building of housing units in area E1, connecting Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim.
Objective & Results
Although the opposition say that the plan is intended to cut off Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem from the rest of Judea & Samaria, Palestinian neighborhoods like Abu Dis in East Jerusalem would still have access to Judea & Samaria.
If the E-1 plan is implemented, Palestinians will be able to travel from Bethlehem to Ramallah by going around Ma’ale Adumim. The Israeli government offered in 2008 under then Israeli premiere Ehud Olmert to build a road as part of a comprehensive settlement connecting Bethlehem and Ramallah, but the Palestinians rejected it.
According to the Palestinian presidential chief of staff, Rafiq Husseini, “The E1 plan would separate the northern and southern West Bank from East Jerusalem, which would prevent the establishment of Palestinian state”. However, an area 12 miles wide between Ma’ale Adumim and the Jordan River would still exist under Palestinian control, according to Olmert’s 2008 offer and Israel’s offer at the 2000 Camp David Summit.
There has been wide-scale opposition mobilized originally by lawyers and activists, including those associated with Peace Now, who closely follow developments in Jerusalem.
The U.S. has historically opposed the plan, with Israel stopping its construction under pressure during the Bush Administration. In 2009, Israel conducted an additional understanding with the U.S. government to not build in the E1 zone. However, on November 30, 2012, Israel breached the agreement and announced its attention to build 3,000 new housing units in the zone. A prominent Israel official explained the decision by stating that the agreement with the American government was “no longer relevant,” as the Palestinians had repeatedly violated their ends of the agreement (The Oslo Peace Accords, signed by the Americans along with Israel & the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of Arafat.) as seen clearly when Abbas ignored President Obama and sought a status change at the UN the day before, 29 Nov 2012.
Israel’s recent plan to move ahead with construction of the 3,000 housing units in the E1 zone was faced with widespread int’l opposition. In particular, the European Union put strong diplomatic pressure on Israel to reverse its decision, as Britain & France threatened to take the unprecedented action of withdrawing their ambassadors in reaction.
For more information about it’s strategic importance, read The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs study: Protecting the Contiguity of Israel: The E-1 Area and the Link Between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim