Tuesday, July 07, 2020

E-1 construction severs contiguity of Palestinian state

By Jessica Purkiss - December 09, 2012
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Settlers] [settlement construction]

Ramallah—As the Palestinian national flag took its place amongst the world’s flags in New York on Thursday, the world was awaiting Israel’s reaction. The world did not have to wait long. Before even the projection screen in Ramallah had been taken down, Netanyahu had unveiled his 'punishment’ to the newly proclaimed state.

Less than 24 hours after the vote, an Israeli senior diplomatic official announced plans for 3,000 new housing units in West Bank, beyond the Green Line in Jerusalem.

Alongside this announcement, the Israeli government unveiled plans to advance the controversial E-1 construction, long stalled by objections from Israel’s ally, the United States.

The contentious E1 plan refers to the construction of an urban block, linking Jerusalem with the large Israeli illegal settlement Ma’ale Adumim.

Effectively this would divide the West Bank in two, with a physical barrier between the north and the south. Strategically, this makes the dream of a congruent Palestine state with East Jerusalem as its capital completely unrealizable and physically impossible.

The plan also disrupts the sole road of access for Palestinians travelling back and forth from cities in the north and south of the West Bank, Route 437. The construction’s result will additionally isolate the divided West Bank areas from one another as well as from East Jerusalem.

Despite the global condemnation the plan has sparked on the basis of moral objections, the E1 plan violates many international laws.

The settlements in themselves have been declared illegal, going against Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. They also violate the Hague Regulations which prohibit an occupying force from making permanent changes to the occupied territory.

Even the seemingly steadfast relationship between Israel and the US may be tested by this latest move

The construction of the E1 area involves 3,500 housing units, areas mapped for tourism, commerce, regional services, roads, and even a regional cemetery— clearly not a temporary change.

The E1 plan is to be undertaken largely on Israeli declared “state-owned” land, a principle whose legality has been harshly examined in the Israeli human rights group B’tselem’s report.

According to Amnesty International, the Israeli army already has plans to forcibly evict and transfer 20 Palestinian communities – some 2,300 people who are mostly Jahalin Bedouin – from their homes in E1 and the area of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement bloc, violating international humanitarian law which prohibits the forcible transfer of “protected persons.”

Aside from the moral and legal objections, the advancement of the E1 plans could be the final nail in the coffin for the two-state solution.

UN Secretary General, Ban-Ki-Moon called Israel’s plans to build the new settlements “an almost fatal blow to remaining chances of securing a two-state solution.”

The move is also placing great diplomatic pressure on Israel. In the face of such a public defeat at the UN, Israel needs to hold onto the few friends it has left. Such reprisals against Palestine only seem to be isolating the lonely state even further.

European Union states are discussing a common response to Israel’s latest move. In a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, ambassadors responsible for security issues considered all 27 states calling in their Israeli ambassadors for consultations, as five EU countries have already done.

Even the seemingly steadfast relationship between Israel and the US may be tested by this latest move. Since its inception the US opposition to E1 has effectively deadlocked its advancement.

According to a senior official, Israel only gave US President Obama a few hours’ notice regarding the decision to advance the contentious plan. After foreign secretary Hilary Clinton’s address to the General Assembly reiterating US support for Israel, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, during the Saban Forum in Washington on Saturday called the move “a slap in the face” for President Obama.

The member states of the UN who have pledged their support for Palestine in the auditorium in New York will face a test to see if their symbolic signatures voting in the state of Palestine as a non-member observer state will translate into the political reality of Palestine’s upgraded status. Their commitments away from symbolic gestures will be tested, especially in the face of Israel’s brazen violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territories.

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