1127 GMT April 01, 2020
Palestinian and foreign opponents of the construction plan for the E-1 area in the West Bank had cautioned that Israeli housing in the corridor’s barren hills could bisect the West Bank, cut off Palestinians from Al-Quds and further dim their hopes for a contiguous state, Reuters reported.
“I have given instructions to immediately publish for deposit the plan to build 3,500 housing units in E-1,” Netanyahu said, using an administrative term for the first phase of a planning process.
“This had been delayed for six or seven years,” he said in a speech, six days before a national election in which the right-wing Likud party leader is seeking to shore up backing from settlers and their supporters.
On Monday, Israelis will vote in a Knesset election in which the right-wing leader hopes to emerge victorious with backing from settlers and their supporters.
He will need to win big to guarantee his political future. Two inconclusive elections in the past 12 months have resulted in stalemates.
To rally his base, Netanyahu made similar expansionist pledges before both votes. In April, he said he would annex all current settlements, and in September, he promised to go further, by claiming sovereignty over a third of the entire West Bank.
The blueprint for the E1 project was drafted in 1995 but has been repeatedly frozen after strong international condemnation.
The plan would expand the large settlement of Maale Adumim, effectively connecting it to Al-Quds.
On Feb. 20, Netanyahu announced he was reviving a project to build 3,000 new settler units at Givat Hamatos in the West Bank, on the outskirts of Al-Quds.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Al-Quds.
Palestinians and much of the world view Israel’s settlements in the West Bank as illegal under international law.
The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Al-Quds as its capital.