A road near the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim
A road near the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim. Photo by Shaul Arieli
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The Housing and Construction Ministry issued a public tender several days ago for an additional access highway to Ma'aleh Adumim, a Jewish city in the Jerusalem area on the other side of the Green Line.

The project will cost about NIS 14 million.

Development of the area between Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem, known as the E1 corridor, has sparked international opposition, on the contention that it would make it difficult to give the Palestinians a state with territorial contiguity in the area.

The new tender includes removing and moving curbing, relocating light poles, moving soil and removing an existing road designed to connect the town with a planned neighborhood, Mevasseret Adumim, in E1.

In February 2009, Amos Harel reported in Haaretz that Israeli governments had invested about NIS 200 million in infrastructure in 2007 and 2008 to prepare for the new neighborhood.

Prior to the Knesset elections last year, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak expressed support for expanding Ma'aleh Adumim, but the new neighborhood has been delayed due to strong opposition by the United States.

Nonetheless, the construction of the West Bank headquarters of the Israel Police, which was officially dedicated in May 2008, served as an anchor for massive infrastructure work, including an extensive network of roads. Although the police station attracts a very small amount of traffic, a six-lane highway has been built nearby, including traffic circles, lighting and lookout points as well as fences and guardrails dividing the highway.

The road cost an estimated NIS 100 million to build. In addition, a highway designed to carry Palestinian traffic from Ramallah to Bethlehem, bypassing East Jerusalem, was paved at a cost of NIS 120 million.

In explaining the new public tender, the Housing Ministry said that as far as is known, the current settlement construction freeze does not apply to development designed to serve existing buildings. The ministry spokesman noted that as part of the work under the new tender, a road will be built connecting to Route 1, a ramp will be constructed, and safety will be improved.

The work has no connection to E1 and that the road is designed to give Ma'aleh Adumim residents a choice of access roads, thereby reducing traffic congestion, he said, adding that the new road should relieve congestion on the highway interchange to the Palestinian village of Azariyeh, too.