Justice Minister Tzippy Livni on Thursday slammed the government's plan to build in the E1 corridor near Maaleh Adumim, calling it “unnecessary.” Moving forward with the project would hamper the peace process, as well as violate Israeli pledges to the United States, she said.
The E1 area, between Maaleh Adumim and Jerusalem, has been the subject of sharp criticism by the Palestinian Authority and Western countries. According to the PA, an Israeli neighborhood in the area would cut off Bethlehem from Ramallah, destroying the possibility of a unified PA state with territorial continuity. It should be noted that the lack of continuity between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim, one of the settlement blocs that all recent Israeli governments have said would be retained regardless of the outcome of negotiations, has not been addressed by the PA, the U.S., or the Quartet.
“It is in Israel's interests to push forward the peace process,” Livni told Israel Radio Thursday morning. “Secretary of State Kerry is determined to deal with this issue, and progress is possible. The Palestinians also need to avoid unilateral actions,” she said.
According to the her party's coalition agreement with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Livni has exclusive say over Israel's negotiating posture versus the PA. Any deal she makes with the PA must be approved by the full government, however.
On Tuesday, Yom Ha'atzma'ut (Independence Day), Housing Minister Uri Ariel said at a ceremony that the government intended to move forward with construction in the E1 area. “We will actualize our rights and obligations to build there,” Ariel said. “In a year and a half the first homes will go up in E1.”