The Subcommittee on Objections of the Higher Planning Council (HPC) of the Civil Administration has postponed its discussion, scheduled for 12/9, to discuss the objections to the plans to establish a settlement of approximately 3,412 housing units in E1. No new date has been published as yet.
Peace Now: This is welcome news, but we wish to see E1 taken off the table completely. E1 is lethal to the two-state solution, highly detrimental to Palestinian freedom of movement and to connection between different parts of the future Palestinian state. The Israeli government, and in particular Minister of Defense Benny Gantz (in whose jurisdiction these decisions lie), must take the plan off the table completely.
The plan was deposited for objections by the Netanyahu Government during his election campaign in 2020, and the objections that were filed to the plan started to be heard in October 2021, shortly after Prime Minister Bennet’s meeting with President Biden. The Subcommittee on objections conducted two hearings to hear the objections, but the third concluding hearing that was scheduled for January 10, 2022, was cancelled following American pressure. In a webinar to Americans for Peace Now US Ambassador Tom Nides spoke bluntly about his efforts to halt E1 plans: “I went full board on E1… It is a very important area which if [built] could cut off any possibility of a capital for the Palestinians.”
The plan is considered exceptionally lethal for the chances for peace and the two-state solution as it cuts across the West Bank and prevents the metropolitan development between Ramallah, East Jerusalem, and Bethlehem. There have been attempts to promote this plan since the 1990s, but due to the opposition in Israel and the world, it was not promoted till Netaynuahu ordered to approve it for depositing in 2012. Then after years, the plan was frozen, and Netanyahu promoted it again at the eve of the February 2020 elections.
The petition filed by the Maale Adumim Municipality
After the third and conclusive discussion of the objections on E1 was canceled, the Municipality of Maale Adumim filed a petition to Jerusalem District Court on March 2022, claiming that the government had no authority to intervene and cancel the hearing. Today, May 31, 2022, the petition was withdrawn, after the government announced that the hearing is set for July 18. There was no hearing in court and no ruling of the court but rather an independent decision of the government to accept the Municipality’s claims without trying to oppose them. However, it is important to emphasize that the Supreme Court had previously ruled that the government has full authority to stop planning and construction in settlements even after construction had started (as was the case during Rabin’s settlement freeze) and even to evict settlements and settlers (as was the case in the disengagement from Gaza).
The meaning of the discussion of the objections to the plan
According to Israeli law and government decisions, any promotion of construction in settlements requires pre-approval by the Minister of Defense. The Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration and its subcommittees are not allowed to convene and discuss a plan or publish a plan’s approval without the Minister of Defense pre-approves that.
The hearing of the objections is a central stage in the procedure of approving the plan, following which the Higher Planning Council can convene to approve the plan for validation.