Israel to finally build in E-1?
The Times of London reported on Saturday that a 'secret agreement' between Binyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman obligates Israel's new government to build
in the area known as "E-1," between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim (see map). The Times is horrified, because it believes that building in E-1 will make the 'two-state solution' impossible.
According to reports in the Israeli media, the area has been earmarked for development under a secret accord between Binyamin Netanyahu, the new, conservative Israeli Prime Minister, and his ultra-nationalist Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman.
Better known under its old British mandate name, E1, it is the most controversial development project in the region, one that diplomats and observers warn will trigger the collapse of the weakened Palestinian Authority, or drive it into armed resistance again.
Israeli army radio reported that the deal was struck between Mr Netanyahu and Mr Lieberman as part of the negotiations to form a government, and it would allow 3,000 homes to be built on E1.
Critics said that building a combined Jewish settlement and national park in the hills of E1 would cut the West Bank in two. And blocking mainly Arab East Jerusalem from the West Bank it would make it impossible for the Palestinians to have that side of the disputed city as their capital.
Of course, building in E-1 only signifies the end of the 'two-state solution' if one assumes that the 'two-state solution' includes returning to the 1967 Auschwitz borders
, something no Israeli government has ever committed to do, and something that is not demanded even by the UN resolutions that Israel has accepted - 242 and 338
. As I have noted previously
Israel has long taken the position that it is entitled to build in areas that it intends to retain under any future 'settlement' with the 'Palestinians.' And, as I noted in March, Maaleh Adumim is just a few minutes east of Jerusalem and is a fairly large city (population approximately 32,000 as of 2006). Maaleh Adumim is considered a 'settlement bloc' that Israel 'expects' to retain under any future 'peace settlement' with the 'Palestinians' and that it was widely assumed that Maaleh Adumim was one of the places Bush had in mind when he referred to 'changing realities' in Judea and Samaria in an April 2004 speech. If Israel intended to keep Maaleh Adumim, it would make no sense to turn over the small strip of land known as E-1 that is between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim to the 'Palestinians.'
The fact that this strip of land will connect Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem is a bonus from Israel's perspective. In the map at the top, the green line represents the pre-1967 border and the blue line represents the current Jerusalem municipal limits.
It's time that there be consequences to 'Palestinian' intransigence. This move that will protect Jerusalem is long overdue.
So long as there are no consequences to the 'Palestinians' for holding out for everything, they will continue to hold out for everything. At some point, Israel has to show that if the 'Palestinians' are not mature enough to compromise on anything, they will get nothing. That time has come.