Israel returns controversial settlement project in E1 areas to the agenda

Middle East Monitor  /  June 1, 2022

The Israeli Defence Ministry is planning to advance a controversial settlement project in the E1 Area of the occupied West Bank after the Israeli government withdrew the plan in January amid international pressure, media outlets have reported.

The Civil Administration of the Israeli army, which authorizes construction work in the occupied West Bank, yesterday published its agenda for an 18 July meeting to discuss objections to projects that have received initial approval, with two E1 plans totaling 3,412 housing units the only ones on the docket, The Times of Israel reported.

The E1 project was first approved by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in 2012 and then put on hold for roughly eight years amid significant international pushback.

The homes would be built east of the illegal Ma’ale Adumim settlement in the middle of the occupied West Bank, breaking up contiguity between Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem and the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem.

However, Weeks later — and against the backdrop of a parliamentary election — Netanyahu took the plan off the agenda.

The next stage in the planning process requires the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee to hear objections against projects, these were filed by a large number of Palestinian attorneys along with several Israeli rights groups.

The hearings were delayed amid the repeated election cycles. In August last year two sessions were held but a final one scheduled for January was removed from the agenda.

The Defence Ministry agenda was published just weeks before Joe Biden is due to make his first visit to Israel as US president and weeks after Israel presented plans to build some 4,500 settlement units across the occupied West Bank, angering Washington.