E-1 Settlement Construction Indefinitely Postponed!

Ameinu joins our Progressive Israel Network Colleagues in Welcoming Indefinite Postponement of Construction in E-1 Area

Responding to news that plans to advance settlement housing units in the E-1 corridor linking East Jerusalem to the northern West Bank have been indefinitely postponed, the Progressive Israel Network issued the following statement:

The Progressive Israel Network (PIN) welcomes the news that the Israeli government will not be building Jewish settlements in the E-1 for the near future. We applaud the Biden Administration’s efforts to prevent such construction, and urge them to continue to push back against settlement expansion more broadly.

The vast majority of American Jews and so many Israelis oppose settlement expansion because building Jewish settlements in the West Bank simultaneously undercuts any future contiguous, viable Palestinian state and continues an illegal process of de facto annexation that will only deepen the conflict, pushing Israelis and Palestinians further towards a permanent and unequal one-state reality. The E-1 area is a particularly sensitive spot. It serves as a vital corridor for Palestinian communal life, connecting the major Palestinian cities of Ramallah north of Jerusalem to Bethlehem south of Jerusalem. As was noted by 26 House Democrats in a November letter to Secretary of State Tony Blinken, these proposed settlements are so dangerous to the prospects of a two-state solution that they have been referred to as “doomsday settlements.”

Just as past US administrations made their strong opposition to settlement construction in this strategic area clear to Israeli governments, we, members of the Progressive Israel Network, see this as a positive step even as we remain concerned by the simultaneous advancement of 3,500 settlement housing units south of Jerusalem.

The following is from the online PDF of PIN’s background explainer on the E1 issue

What is E1?

E1 is an area of undeveloped land, approximately 4.6 square miles, to the east of East of Jerusalem, the anticipated capital of the Palestinian state in a Two-State Solution. Located beyond the Green Line, and stretching deep into the West Bank, E1 currently serves as a vital corridor for Palestinian communal life, connecting Ramallah and the northern West Bank to Bethlehem and the southern West Bank, and likewise between all of these areas and East Jerusalem.

Significance of E1

Plans for settlement construction in E1 are referred to as “doomsday settlements” because of the significant threat development in this area poses to the future of a Two-State Solution.

● E1 is the only buildable land remaining that is large enough for the natural growth of East Jerusalem, the largest Palestinian city it the West Bank, making it crucial for the future economic and social development of the city and for a Palestinian state.

● Settlement construction in E1 would isolate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, threatening the territorial contiguity necessary for a viable independent Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem and would prevent the development of a central metropolitan area between Ramallah, East Jerusalem, and Bethlehem.

● Israeli development in this area would divide the north of the West Bank from the South, preventing the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state and delivering a significant blow to the prospects of a Two-State Solution.

● Building thousands of housing units in E1 would also lead to the displacement of the Bedouin communities who currently live in this area, the most well-known of which is Khan al Ahmar.

What’s currently going on?

Frozen for years, the government of Israel is taking the first significant steps to implement plans to build 3400 settlement units after then-Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed the Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration in 2020 to advance review of the plans in an effort to secure electoral points.

Hearings to review objections to construction in E-1 began in the fall of 2021. Then, in early January 2022, further review of the plan was indefinitely postponed. Few steps remain before the plan can receive final approval.

Should Israel one day proceed with the hearings, the objections to the plan will likely be rejected. Following this, the final step requires the approval of the Minister of Defense on the convening of the Higher Planning Council and also on the final approval of the plan. Once approved construction will begin.