The Civil Planning Authority issued on Wednesday a “go” decision for building 3,500 residential units in two E-1 areas in Maaleh Adumim, but politics and bureaucrats may leave the plans on paper.
E1 refers to an area that was designated nearly 20 years ago for residential building, but US presidents, including Clinton, Reagan and Obama, have proven to be immovable obstacles to construction.
Israel has managed to build a solitary police station on the site, but the Palestinian Authority’s successful bid for de facto recognition by the United Nations General Assembly last week prompted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to put building plans into action.
Despite mammoth opposition from the international community as well as most Israel mainstream media, which oppose a strong Likud victory in the January 22 elections, the Civil Planning Authority cleared the first bureaucratic hurdle.
It remains to be seen whether Netanyahu is serious about proceeding with plans or is grandstanding as a diplomatic threat to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Media pundits have figured the Prime Minister is talking tough to satisfy growing nationalist sentiment both within and without the party. However, it could be that he is taking a stand without the usual political calculations since building in E1 could risk support from the “centrist” voters.
Besides politics, there are bureaucratic steps that even if overcome will keep the bulldozers away for at least two years.
"It could take days, months or even years for them to approve it and after that it will need to go through another few stages," an Israeli official told AFP.
"Final approval for the plan will have to come from the political level. There won't be any bulldozers going in any time soon. It will take at least several months, if not years."
Nothing will happen for at least 60 days, the time period in which anyone can raise objections to the Civil Planning Authority's decision. They are sure to come form Peace Now and other left-wing groups, which oppose any building for Jews in Judea and Samaria.
Detailed building plans have not yet been drawn up, and building permits are far down the line in Israel’s bureaucratic system for construction.
Leftists and the international community oppose building in E1 because it allegedly would preclude the creation of a Palestinian Authority country by giving Jews a contiguous presence from Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem while blocking a similar Arab north-south dominance from Ramallah to Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem.
However, Abbas' terms for a state preclude the very presence of Jews in the city of Maaleh Adumim or any to her community in Judea and Samaria.