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Sunday, 19 September. 2021
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The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported on October 9 that the Israeli army issued an order for the expropriation of 1,100 dunams of land from four Palestinian villages in east Jerusalem. The land, to be confiscated from the villages of Abu Dis, Arab al-Sawahra, Nebi Musa and Talhin Alhamar, is to be used for a new Jericho-Jerusalem road, constructed for Palestinian use. The expropriation would then allow for additional land slated for the development of the long-criticized Israeli E-1 plan for Jerusalem, which would ostensibly sever east Jerusalem from the West Bank. The confiscated land is to be used for the development of the land between Jerusalem and the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement, eventually to accommodate the construction of 3,500 housing units and an industrial park.

The E-1 plan has been widely criticized, not just by the Palestinians, but by the international community including the United States, which has effectively stalled any development on the plan since 2004. If these new housing units are developed, it would effectively sever contiguity between the northern and southern West Bank.

Although the Israeli government has issued contradicting statements about the confiscation order, - the defense ministry claiming the expropriated land has nothing to do with the E1 plan while vice premier Haim Ramon says he “knows nothing about it,” - it is clear that such a move was designed to serve further settlement construction of illegal east Jerusalem settlements.

Israel has maintained that it will not relinquish major West Bank settlement blocs in any final status negotiation, first and foremost the east Jerusalem Maale’h Adumim bloc, which in 2006, housed 31,700 settlers. If the E1 plan continues undeterred, this will raise the number of settlers and increase the land Israel claims is part of this settlement bloc, which will eventually be annexed to Israel.

Meanwhile, Israeli legislators are pitching new ideas for Jerusalem in any final agreement with the Palestinians. Haim Ramon, along with other right-wing Israeli MKs such as Israel Beituna leader Avigdor Lierberman agreed that in any final agreement, it would be in Israel’s interests to transfer Palestinian neighborhoods outside the “holy basin” to the Palestinian Authority. The groups, also including Labor, have yet to agree on which neighborhoods would be transferred.

Ramon has expressed the logic behind his idea, saying that not only would Israel be relieved of paying social benefits to the residents of these areas, but it could gain international recognition of its annexation of Jerusalem in exchange.

The ideas are so far non-binding, but could prove to be the basis of Israeli proposals in later negotiations. All Israeli parties, however, agree that the Old City, Jerusalem’s heart, would remain under Israeli control. Palestinians, on the other hand, insist that east Jerusalem, including the Old City, must be their future capital.

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