Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu once again promised on Tuesday that Israel would fill Yehudah and Shomron with thousands of new housing units. At an event in Maale Adumim, east of Yerushalayim, Netanyahu said that he had “declared a full-steam-ahead approach for development here. We will build thousands of units, add industrial zones and do everything needed to advance development here.”
“This place will be part of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “I support the Metropolitan Yerushalayim bill,” which would incorporate Jewish communities around the city into a single municipal area (with local governments remaining intact), while Arab neighborhoods would be spun off into their own independent jurisdictions. “This law will allow Yerushalayim to grow and expand, and it is very important for Israel,” he added.
Part of the land where the promised homes and industrial zones are to be built is part of the E1 corridor, a parcel of land that lies between Yerushalayim and Maale Adumim. Israel has sought for years to build in the area, but has been stymied by American administrations, at the behest of the Palestinian Authority, which claims that mass Israeli construction in the area would essentially make a Palestinian state impossible, as it would irrevocably divide the two major Palestinian population centers – the Ramallah/Shechem area and the Chevron area – from each other.
If the plan is indeed to build in E1, then Netanyahu is being overly optimistic, Yerushalayim Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin said in an interview Tuesday. According to Elkin, the current administration is no different from others in terms of its willingness to allow massive Israeli building in Yehudah and Shomron.
“The administration of President Donald Trump may be very friendly to Israel, but unfortunately that has not changed anything in the negative attitude on Israeli construction. On this issue the administration is continuing the tradition of the Obama administration.”