Settlements in Focus: Vol. 1, Issue 1 - "E-1 & Ma'ale Adumim"

E-1 & Ma'ale Adumim

What is E-1? Is it the same as reported plans to expand Ma'ale Adumim?

E-1 is short for "East 1," the administrative name given to the stretch of land northeast of Jerusalem, to the west of the settlement of Ma'ale Adumim. When people talk about E-1 today, they are referring to a longstanding Israeli plan - never implemented - to build a large new Israeli neighborhood in this area.

E-1 is not the same as the expansion of Ma'ale Adumim. The ongoing expansion of Ma'ale Adumim, which the biggest settlement in the West Bank (about 30,000 people), is toward the east, in the direction of another settlement, the Mishor Adumim industrial park.

Is E-1 part of Israel or the West Bank?

E-1 is part of the West Bank. It was never annexed to Israel and since 1967 it has been under Israeli military law.

Is Ma'ale Adumim part of Israel or the West Bank?

Due to its close proximity to Jerusalem, Ma'ale Adumim is viewed by most Israelis as a suburb or neighborhood of Jerusalem. However, Ma'ale Adumim is located in the West Bank and is therefore a settlement. The area on which it is located was never annexed to Israel and since 1967 has been under Israeli military law. Ma'ale Adumim is the largest settlement in the West Bank and is one of only four settlements in the West Bank classified by Israel as a "city." Many observers expect that under any future peace agreement Ma'ale Adumim will remain part of Israel, as was the case under the Clinton proposal and the Geneva Initiative (with a land swap to compensate the Palestinians for the territory).

Why are Israeli construction of E-1 and the expansion of Ma'ale Adumim a big deal?

Construction of E-1 would jeopardize the hopes for a two-state solution. It would, by design, block off the narrow undeveloped land corridor which runs east of Jerusalem and which is necessary for any meaningful future connection between the southern and the northern parts of the West Bank. It would thus break the West Bank into two parts - north and south. It would also sever access to East Jerusalem for Palestinians in the West Bank, and sever access to the West Bank for Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. Both of these situations are antithetical to the achievement of any real, durable peace agreement and the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state.

The expansion of Ma'ale Adumim, as with the expansion of any other settlement, is a unilateral act which undermines and jeopardizes efforts to resume negotiations which are based on the principal of two states living side by side with peace and security.

If E-1 is constructed, can't the Palestinians have contiguity via road around or through the area?

If E-1 were constructed Palestinians could, theoretically, travel between the northern and southern West Bank via a road - that at this time does not exist - through the Judean desert, looping around the Ma'ale Adumim bloc and the expanded area of Jerusalem whose outskirts would stretch nearly to Jericho. Similarly, there have been suggestions of a road for Palestinians running north-south between Ma'ale Adumim and Jerusalem, using overpasses and tunnels to bypass Israeli built-up areas (which already exists to some extent).

However, either of these arrangements, which would involve enormous expense and damage to the landscape, would create only "transportational connectivity"- distinct communities with no real connection except via roads. Such a situation is different from "territorial contiguity," which implies a continuous area in which Palestinian life - commerce, economy, education, health services, political activity, etc. - can function and flow normally, and hopefully flourish, as required for Israel's long-term security and regional stability. Moreover, such arrangements assume that Israeli-Palestinian peace and a two-state solution are possible without East Jerusalem being contiguous with and part of a Palestinian state - an assumption that no serous analyst would support.

It is possible that, within the context of a negotiated agreement, some of these challenges could be surmounted via mutually agreed-upon mechanisms, including innovative transportation schemes and land-sharing or land-swap agreements. However, unilateral acts by Israel that would impose this reality on the Palestinians are antithetical to the development of a stable, viable Palestinian state, undermining the legitimacy of moderate, pro-peace Palestinian leaders and empowering radicals. President Bush has repeatedly expressed his concern regarding the need for territorial contiguity for a future Palestinian state, and has called on the Israeli government to freeze all settlement activities in the West Bank, and especially E-1.

Isn't this whole area (Ma'ale Adumim and E-1) going to end up in Israel anyway?

Regardless of who may end up in control of or with sovereignty over these areas under a future peace agreement, if Israel is serious about wanting to make peace with the Palestinians, the future of these areas must be left to negotiations and not determined by unilateral acts. This is all the more true at a time when the newly elected Palestinian Authority needs to demonstrate to the Palestinian people that diplomacy and negotiations are the only route to achieving Palestinian aspirations. Unilateral acts by Israel in this carefully watched and strategically critical geographic area will likely undermine President Abbas and the hopes for achieving peace and a two state solution. Such acts also publicly defy and embarrass the United States, waste goodwill towards Israel around the world, and pointlessly consume valuable Israeli political capital.

Many observers expect that under any future peace agreement Ma'ale Adumim will remain part of Israel, as was the case under the Clinton proposal and the Geneva Initiative (with a land swap to compensate the Palestinians for the territory); there is no similar consensus over the future of E-1.

How much land is included in E-1?

E-1 comprises about 12,000 dunams, which is roughly 12 square kilometers.

What is on this land now?

Up to this point a few basic infrastructure projects have been initiated in the E-1 area. For example, there is a new road carved into the landscape (still unpaved). During 2004 some land in E-1 was cleared in preparation for future construction. Those efforts were carried out without a permit (i.e., illegally) and were stopped a few months after their initiation. Most of the E-1 area remains untouched.

Who does the land in E-1 actually belong to?

The question must be addressed in both administrative terms and in terms of property rights. Administratively, Israel considers E-1 as an official part of Ma'ale Adumim; however, this is misleading, since the municipal area of Ma'ale Adumim (i.e., total land allocated to the settlement) is much bigger than the actual constructed area of the settlement (53,000 dunams total municipal area - larger that Tel Aviv - versus 7,000 dunams of actual built-up area). E-1's inclusion in the Ma'ale Adumim municipal area is merely an administrative step and does not reflect the land's actual use or the needs of the settlement.

In the 1980's Israel declared most, but not all, of the lands of E-1 "state land," i.e., land that is not owned by any individual and is thus the property of the state (although since E-1 is part of the West Bank, there are other legal issues about Israel's right to develop the land for Israeli use). Significant portions of the lands of E-1 remained - and remain today - privately owned Palestinian lands. Consequently, plans relating to the area of E-1 resemble a slice of Swiss cheese: plans for built-up areas on "state land," with Palestinian-owned land (the holes in the cheese) scattered throughout and left unplanned.

Aren't the Palestinians building illegally in E-1?

There is no Palestinian construction in E-1.

What is the population and population growth rate in Ma'ale Adumim?

Population figures for Ma'ale Adumim, 2000-2004
(source: Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics)

End of Year Population Actual Increase
2000 24,900 ---
2001 25,800 900
2002 26,500 700
2003 27,259 759
2004 30,346 3087

Doesn't Ma'ale Adumim need to expand to meet "natural growth" requirements?

The Israeli government has declared its intention to construct 3,500 housing unites in E-1 - sufficient to accommodate an increase of about 20,000 settlers in Ma'ale Adumim. As the table above shows, this number has nothing to do with the actual growth of the settlement's population in recent years - a rate of growth which, because of immigration from outside of the settlement, is actually much higher than the so-called "natural growth" rate of the settlement (e.g., growth due to births, etc.).

What has been the policy of past Israeli governments regarding E-1?

Rabin Era: In 1994, Yitzhak Rabin expanded the borders of Ma'ale Adumim significantly to include the area known as E-1. Rabin refrained from implementing any construction in the E-1 area between Ma'ale Adumim and Jerusalem, in all likelihood due to a tacit understanding with the U.S. Administration that the fate of the E-1 area would be determined in the future within the framework of the peace process.

Netanyahu Era: During the Netanyahu government, the Prime Minister attempted to expedite the E-1 Master Plan (a first statutory step to implementation of the plan, which includes general land designations but is not specific enough to allow the issuance of building permits), along with establishing a Greater Jerusalem umbrella municipality which was to include Ma'ale Adumim. These efforts were limited to statutory planning and the Municipal Plan for E-1 was not formally approved. Netanyahu eventually scuttled the plan for a Greater Jerusalem municipality, accepting the U.S. claim that this would constitute de facto annexation, and he refrained from any construction in the E-1 area.

Barak Era: During the Barak government, the Prime Minister expressed support for E-1 but refrained from any construction in the E-1 area. Barak did place the issue of E-1 on the negotiating table at Taba and the matter remained unresolved when the Taba talks broke up. Barak refrained from any construction in the E-1 area.

Sharon Era: During 2002, Minister of Defense Ben Eliezer signed the Master Plan for E-1 (expedited but not approved under Netanyahu) into law. Ben Eliezer subsequently undertook to the U.S. Administration not to implement the E-1 plan and indeed no further statutory planning was carried out and there was no construction in E-1during his tenure in office. In mid-2004, construction commenced on infrastructure in E-1. The work was carried out by the Ministry of Construction and was illegal: in the absence of a Specific Town Plan no permits could be or were issued to allow for this work. The work included the clearing of roads for major highways leading to the planned residential areas and site preparation for the planned police station (so that the police station in Ras Al Amud may be transferred to the settlers there, tripling their presence in the heart of that Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem).

What has been the policy of past U.S. governments regarding E-1?

The policy of all U.S. governments - past and present - has been to oppose settlement construction activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. With respect to E-1, the U.S. has communicated to Israel its opposition to the plan, privately and publicly, on a number of occasions over the years. Successive Administrations, including the Bush Administration, appear to have understood that implementation of the plan would have a catastrophic effect on the prospects for Middle East peace.

What is Peace Now's position regarding E-1 and the future of Ma'ale Adumim?

Peace Now believes that Israel should halt all settlement activity in the occupied territories. This is especially important with respect to E-1, because of its sensitive location. The fate of E-1 should be determined through negotiations, rather than unilateral actions.

Text by Peace Now Settlements Watch Director Dror Etkes. Additional text provided by Danny Seidemann, Ir Amim. Edited by APN Government Relations Director Lara Friedman.