Speaking to reporters over the weekend, Acting Prime Minister Olmert said that construction in the area would ensure territorial contiguity between the Jerusalem suburb and the capital.
Earlier in the week, Olmert had confirmed that he would support construction in the area if he wins in the upcoming elections, but made no mention of the fact that construction had in fact already begun.
A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said he was not aware that building had started. Adam Avidan said Monday evening, however, that he knew the plan had been approved six months ago.
Others immediately weighed in with their criticism.
Peace Now officials said the move is not in Israel’s best interests and that it would block chances of reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority. They also said it would damage Israel’s relations with the United States.
Knesset member Zehava Gal-On also opposed the plan, agreeing with Peace Now that it would torpedo the chance for peace with the PA.
“Construction began regardless of Olmert, according to the old plan,” said a government source. The plan to build the police station in E1 was approved by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in August. At the time, the U.S. did not oppose the move.
Such is not the case at present. The Bush administration has expressed concern that construction in the sensitive zone will disrupt the connection between Jerusalem and areas controlled by the PA.