The Higher Planning Council (HPC) has sent a summoning today for a hearing on October 4 and on October 18, to discuss the objections filed by Peace Now, Ir Amim and many others to the plans to built 3,412 housing units in E1. Earlier on July 2021, the HPC tried to schedule the hearing to August but it was cancelled. The government of Israel had an opportunity to take the plan of the table, but instead, the plan was promoted and today the HPC announced the new date for the hearing at the beginning of October, just after the holidays in Israel.
This 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 development of the metropoline 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, Netanyahu promoted it again at the eve of the February 2020 elections.
Peace Now: This plan poses a real threat for the chance for peace thus has gained sharp opposition in Israel and internationally. Instead of leveraging the meeting with President Biden for a better future for the region, the government is promoting Netanyahu’s dangerous policies. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense can and must freeze this plan so that the Israeli interest is safeguarded and a wrong prevented.
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 is not allowed to convene and discuss a plan or publish a plan’s approval without the Minister of Defense pre approves that.
There are four stages in the planning process that the Minister of Defense must pre-approve: Discussion for deposition, Publication of the deposition, Discussion for validation and the Publication of the validation. The objections that are filed following the publication of the depositing, are discussed by the Sub-Committee for Objections, which is a sub-committee of the Higher Planning Council. The sub-committee does not approve the plan but recommends to the Higher Planning Council whether to accept or reject the objections.
The hearing of the objections is a central stage in the procedure of approving the plan, but because there is no official approval of the plan (but rather a recommendation), the Minister of Defense does not have to approve in advance the convening of the sub-committee, unlike the other 4 stages.
We do not know who initiated the discussion of the objections. It is unlikely that the Minister of Defense did not know about it, especially after the fact that the intention to hear the objections was already published on July 2021, when the HPC tried to schedule the hearing to August. If this was done without the knowledge of the Minister of Defense, this is a severe act because the great sensitivity of this plan is well known to all who are involved. In any case, the Minister of Defense has full authority to call upon the Planning Council to cancel the discussion and to freeze the plan at any moment.