Middle East Monitor / March 9, 2020
Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett today approved a project for a new road for Palestinians that would allow Israel to annex the Ma’aleh Adumim bloc in the E1 zone of the occupied West Bank.
The road, which would connect the village of Azzim, near Ma’aleh Adumim, with the villages of Anata, Hizma and Al-Ram, has been termed the “sovereignty road” by Bennett.
The defence minister explained that the road would be separate from those used by vehicles with Israeli licence plates and would allow Palestinian traffic to bypass the Ma’aleh Adumim bloc, effectively annexing the area.
Bennett called the move the application of “sovereignty in deeds not words”.
Adding that the project marks the embarkation of “the process of connecting Jerusalem with Ma’aleh Adumim”.
“The project will improve the quality of life of the residents in the area, avoid unnecessary friction with the Palestinian population in the area, and most importantly allow for continued settlement construction.”
According to US President Trump’s Middle East ‘peace plan’, which was unveiled in January, the road needs to be built to allow the formation of a contiguous Palestinian state and has been defined as a “fabric of life” road.
Though Palestinian activists have argued that the E1 project destroys any possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state.
Peace Now reported that once the road is built, Israel can claim that the construction of illegal settlements in the E1 area does not sever the occupied West Bank or preclude the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state.
The settlement watchdog said the construction of the road “is bad news for Israel as it enables annexation toward rendering a two-state solution insoluble… there is no desire here to improve Palestinian transport, only to expand settlements.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the construction of 3,500 new settlement units in the E1 area on 25 February, in addition to 46,000 new settlement units which will be built in the rest of the occupied West Bank.
On Trump’s “deal of the century”, Netanyahu said: “Let’s be clear, US President Donal Trump’s administration asked us to take decisions on Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank], where we plan to impose our sovereignty.”