|Discussion of Objections on E1 Plans
On November 8, 2021, an additional session for discussion of objections on the E1 plans for 3400 housing units will take place at the Settlement Subcommittee of the Supreme Planning Council in the Civil Administration. This discussion constitutes the last stage before final approval of the plans. It should be underscored that as with all settlement plans advanced in the West Bank, each stage must be authorized by the Minister of Defense, including the convening of discussions on objections and the subsequent approval for validation. Therefore, it should be assumed that the Israeli government, which includes members who theoretically support a two-state framework, has authorized the advancement of these plans. Construction in E1 has long been regarded as an irreparable game-changer in the conflict as it will bisect the West Bank and detach it from East Jerusalem, dealing a death blow to the prospects of a two-state solution with two capitals in Jerusalem.
The previous session on the plans' objections, which was convened on October 18, involved the presentation of three objections filed by two Palestinian towns in the vicinity of E1 (Anata and Al-Azariya) and the joint objection submitted by Ir Amim, Peace Now and the Association for Environmental Justice.
Presentation of the remaining objections and a subsequent discussion are expected to take place at the session on November 8. Although in the theory, the committee could issue a decision on the objections during the upcoming session, it will likely take place thereafter.
Against the backdrop of the recent approval of over 3000 residential units deep in the West Bank, the plans for E1 are clearly advancing at full force in tandem to settlement plans across East Jerusalem in Givat Hamatos, Har Homa E, and Atarot involving thousands of housing units for Israelis.
New Tender Issued in Givat Hamatos
Just last week, the Israel Land Authority published an additional tender (tender no. 358/2021) for 83 housing units on Givat Hamatos. While the tender is designated for one of the plots within the original tender for 1257 housing units published in November 2020, there were no winning bidders for this plot and therefore, a new tender was issued. The tender is slated to be open for bidding on December 20, 2021. As with the other recent developments concerning Givat Hamatos, including the municipality's expropriation of land for public use and the advancement of a new outline plan, it is clear that the government is resolute in pushing forward the construction of this new settlement. It is worth noting, however, that the government likewise has the power to suspend the plans even after the issuance of tenders, the awarding of contracts and/or the start of construction should there be enough political will.
Hurdling Towards de-facto Annexation of "Greater Jerusalem"
Despite the change in the Israeli government and its stated commitment to shelve annexation and new settlement construction, settlement plans have rather advanced unencumbered, accelerating steps towards de-facto annexation of "Greater Jerusalem" (the three large settlement blocs of Gush Etzion, Maaleh Adumim and Givat Ze'ev). Construction of any of these settlements, let alone their compounded impact, will fragment the integrity of Palestinian Jerusalem and disconnect it from the West Bank in every direction, rendering a two-state framework with two capitals in Jerusalem nonviable.
These developments are neither isolated nor independent of one another, but rather part and parcel of a concerted and coordinated attempt to predetermine the endgame of the conflict by undermining conditions necessary for a negotiated political resolution.