Naftali Bennett in Samaria. (Hillel Maeir/TPS) Hillel Maeir/TPS
Naftali Bennett in Samaria

The project was approved on Monday, representing another step toward Israeli sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday approved the “Sovereignty Road” project, the construction of a new route that will faciliatate Israeli community building in the E1 Area, creating a territorial continuum between Jerusalem and the city of Ma’ale Adumim.

The new route will also connect the Arab village of Azza’im, near Ma’aleh Adumim, with the Arab villages Anata, Hizma and Ram on its other side, permitting Arabs to travel between villages without crossing through Jewish areas.

Plans for Israeli construction in E1 have been frozen since 2009 following international pressure.

Critics of Israeli construction in E1 claim that the plan aims to prevent the expansion of Arab construction in eastern Jerusalem by creating a physical link between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem and will disconnect Jerusalem from the rest of the Judea and Samaria area, jeopardizing the prospects of a contiguous Palestinian state. The Palestinian Authority leadership has described the E1 plan as an effort to “Judaize Jerusalem.”

The new road will enable Israeli construction in Area E1while easing traffic congestion on the road and significantly improving the quality of life of the Ma’aleh Adumim residents and those of the surrounding area, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

The project, which has been on the table for about a decade, will now enter planning stages in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport, which will be responsible for its implementation. The process can take several months.

Bennett stated that “we are a giving green light to the Sovereignty Road today and embarking on the process of connecting Jerusalem with Ma’aleh Adumim.”

“The project will improve the quality of life of the residents in the area, avoid unnecessary friction with the Palestinian population and most importantly – allow for continued settlement construction. Applying sovereignty – in deeds, not in words. We will continue to do so.”

The European Union’s High Representative Josep Borrell has previously called on Israel to “halt settlement construction, to suspend the publication of tenders and to refrain from any measures aimed at the advancement of such construction plans.”

He further called on “both parties to engage in a dialogue and to refrain from any unilateral action that undermines the viability of the two-state solution.”

In February, Prime Minister Netanyahu is reported to have given a directive to deposit plans for the construction of 3,500 housing units in E1.

Israel also announced in February the decision for construction in the Giv’at Hamatos and Har Homa neighborhoods south of Jerusalem.

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