Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Tuesday he was advancing a controversial plan to build thousands of settlement homes east of Jerusalem, days before the national election.

Netanyahu told a conference of the right-wing newspaper, Besheva, that he will reopen a long-stalled plan to construct about 3,500 new housing units in E1, a highly contentious area between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim.

He said he gave “an immediate directive” to move the plan to the next phase in the Higher Planning Committee of the Civil Administration.

E1 is a 12-square km area connecting the Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, both are areas Israel has been controlling since capturing them in the 1967 Middle East, despite international criticism.

Israeli construction in this area would effectively expand the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim and connect it with Jerusalem. It will create a contiguous Israeli wedge between East Jerusalem and the West Bank, physically disconnecting Palestinians in East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.

Plans for settlements in E1 were first drafted in 1995 but have been repeatedly frozen following pressures by the United States, Europe, and the United Nations.

Attempts to revive it has sparked in the past Palestinian protests and strong international condemnations.

Last Thursday, Netanyahu announced he was promoting the building of about 5,200 new settlement homes in sensitive areas of East Jerusalem.

The announcements came amidst Netanyahu’s tight race against his main rival, centrist Benny Gantz, ahead of the March 2 national election.

Statements on the expansions of the settlements are appealing to Netanyahu’s right-wing electoral base. Enditem



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