Amid Israel-Europe Diplomatic Crisis |

Israel Pushing Ahead With New Settlement Plans, Despite World Pressure

Higher Planning Council meeting Wednesday to deliberate plans for 3,400 new homes in the E-1 corridor between Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem; construction plans have led to unprecedented diplomatic tensions between Israel and European states.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

The Higher Planning Council of the Israel Defense Forces' Civil Administration in the West Bank met Wednesday morning to push ahead with plans to construct 3,400 new homes in the E-1 corridor between Ma'ale Adumim and Jerusalem, despite the international pressure on Israel to reverse the decision.

Israel announced its construction plans shortly after the United Nations voted to upgrade the Palestinian Authority's status to non-member observer state. The decision sparked an international outcry, particularly among Israel's European allies.

The deliberations, which were added to the Higher Planning Council's agenda at the last minute, will focus on two construction plans for the E-1 corridor: 1,200 homes for the southern section of this area, and 2,176 in its eastern sections.

Attached to the summons for discussion was a note indicating that every stage of construction requires the approval of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Brigadier-General Eitan Dangot, giving the political echelon the majority of control over the building plans.

A 60-day appeal period will be given following the presentation of the construction plans.

The council's meeting was being held just hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Berlin, where he was expected to face censure from German Chancellor Angela Merkel over Israel's contentious construction plans.

Israel and European states have been embroiled in an unprecedented diplomatic crisis since the plans were announced.

Britain, France, Sweden, Denmark and Spain on Monday summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their countries to express their condemnation of Netanyahu's decision, and on Tuesday, Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Finland and Egypt followed suit. Russia also issued a statement on Monday urging Israel to refrain from expanding settlements.

The Dutch ambassador, whose country abstained in Thursday’s UN vote on Palestinian non-member state status, told Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that if the E-1 construction went forward, his country could not support Israel in future UN votes. The German deputy ambassador conveyed a similar message.

Haaretz reported on Monday that both Britain and France were poised to take action over the matter possibly including the unprecedented step of recalling their ambassadors, according to senior European diplomats.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Tuesday that European sanctions against Israel in response to its latest plans to build more settlements on disputed land were not an option, but said further steps would need to be considered if the expansion plans were not rescinded.

Bedouin ride donkeys in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem, December 3, 2012. Credit: Reuters
E-1 Area map.Credit: Haaretz

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