|Today, the first of two discussions on objections submitted against the E1 plans for approximately 3400 housing units was scheduled to take place at the Civil Administration's Supreme Planning Council. While the Civil Administration convened the session, objections to the plans were neither heard nor were they discussed.
On September 30, the Civil Administration informed those who submitted objections to the E1 plans that the October 4th session would be held in a virtual-only format with no physical attendance permitted, which is contrary to existing regulations and the notice originally issued.
The majority of the Palestinian residents who submitted objections based on the plans' negative impact on their communities in the E1 area would not be able to participate in the discussion due to the lack of access to electricity and internet infrastructure. Although the attorneys representing the Palestinian communities submitted an urgent request to allow for physical presence to accommodate those without appropriate infrastructure, the Civil Administration denied the request.
Late last night, the Civil Administration reversed its decision, stating it would allow physical attendance at the session. However, this did not provide enough time to update the hundreds of Palestinians who have submitted objections and make adequate arrangements for them to attend the discussion at the Civil Administration offices in the Beit El settlement.
Upon commencement of today's session, the attorneys and organizations representing the Palestinian communities demanded that the discussion be postponed due to the exclusion of Palestinian residents. Despite the attorneys' appeals and detailed explanations, the Civil Administration officials declined to adjourn the session. In opposition to such conduct, those representing the Palestinian communities along with civil society organizations, such as Ir Amim, left the discussion. While the E1 plans were presented by the planners, no presentation and/or discussion of the objections took place.
The Civil Administration has stated that it will permit both virtual and physical attendance to the second discussion of objections already scheduled for October 18. If the session does indeed take place in both formats, those who have submitted objections will be given the opportunity to present those objections. However, it should be noted that the presentation on the E1 plans would need to be re-given in the presence of the Palestinian residents.
If nothing changes within the next two weeks, the Civil Administration will move forward with discussion of objections on October 18 and will likely reject them. Such a step will pave the way for formal approval of the plans after which tenders for construction of this large new settlement can be issued. For decades, construction in E1 has been considered a death blow to the two-state solution and has long constituted an international redline. It is therefore critical to block these measures within this narrow window of time.