Israel “Disengaging” From The Two-State Solution

Press Releases
August 25, 2005

Settlement Expansion East of Jerusalem Suggests that Israel is “Disengaging” from the Two-State Solution

As Israel was completing its evacuation of 8,500 settlers in the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank yesterday, it embarked on plans to make room for 25,000 more settlers in Ma’ale Adumim, a settlement east of Jerusalem. If enacted, this plan will mean an end to the Two-State Solution.

Ma’ale Adumim lies 4.5 kilometers east of the 1967 pre-occupation border and 2 kilometers east of the Israeli-defined municipal boundary of Jerusalem—a boundary deemed illegal by the international community. Currently, some 30,000 settlers live in Ma’ale Adumim. While construction was underway on hundreds of new units tendered last year, the Israeli government approved construction of an additional 2,100 units this year, which could house approximately 10,000 new settlers.

Another 3,500 units, which could house over 15,000 new settlers, have been approved in the so-called “E-1 Plan. ” The E-1 Plan aims to link Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem, at the direct expense of Palestinian Christian and Muslim communities that lie in between. At the request of the Bush administration, Israel placed construction of these units on hold. However, on August 16, 2005 Israel issued confiscation orders for 1,600 dunums (400 acres) of Palestinian land for the Wall around Ma’ale Adumim, including the area slated for E-1, suggesting that construction of these units is not a matter of if, but when.

When complete, Israel’s Wall around Ma’ale Adumim, including E-1, will extend 14 km into the occupied West Bank—staking out an area for the Adumim bloc’s settlements larger than that of Tel Aviv.

For a map of Ma’ale Adumim, E-1, and the new confiscation orders, click here.

A Palestinian capital and free Palestinian access to and from East Jerusalem is essential to a viable two-state solution. Metropolitan East Jerusalem, which includes Bethlehem and Ramallah, accounts for 30-40% of the Palestinian economy. The ancient city is also the historic cultural and political center of Palestinian life.

Palestinian access to East Jerusalem could also promote the success of Gaza “Disengagement”: creating links between East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip could help reinvigorate Gaza’s decimated economy by providing Palestinians in Gaza with access to East Jerusalem’s unique international market.

However, Ma’ale Adumim, Israel’s Wall and the settlement rings around East Jerusalem cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and slice the West Bank in two. Fragmenting East Jerusalem and severing East Jerusalem from the communities on which it has historically depended means that it is increasingly difficult for Jerusalem’s historic Palestinian communities to sustain themselves. If enacted, the E-1 Plan will provide territorial contiguity for 30,000 illegal settlers by denying that contiguity for 2.4 million Palestinians in the rest of the occupied West Bank.

Israeli officials have countered that a road could be built to link Ramallah to Bethlehem. Ramallah is located north of East Jerusalem and Bethlehem to the city’s south. This proposal, however, would still deny Palestinians access to the East Jerusalem because the road would bypass the city. It would also facilitate the expansion of Israel’s settlements and the construction of Israel’s Wall, all illegal under international law. And by aiding the expansion of Israel’s settlements and the continued construction of Israel’s Wall, this proposal would continue to restrict the natural development of Palestinian communities on Palestinian land, forcing Palestinians into ever-shrinking ghettoes.

On February 7th, The Washington Post confirmed Israel’s Jerusalem strategy when it released the findings of an investigative report. The investigation concluded that all of Israel’s ministries had conspired to violate both international law and Israeli law to consolidate its hold in Jerusalem while severing Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. While “Disengagement” proves that Israel can reverse its illegal settlement policy, the harm to historic Palestinian communities may not be reversible.

The Palestinian leadership calls on Israel to seize the day after “Disengagement” as an opportunity for peace, rather than to permit Israel to disengage from the Two-State Solution. The Palestinian leadership is committed to returning immediately to the Road Map for Peace, which includes a freeze on all settlement construction.

The Palestinian Leadership recognizes the important opportunity that the evacuation of 2% of Israel’s settlers creates, but fears that settlement expansion in E-1 and Ma’ale Adumim may squander that historic opportunity—and with it, any hope of achieving a viable two-state solution.

The Prime Minister’s office will be coordinating a Press Conference and a Tour of the areas for journalists on Sunday. (The Conference and the Tour Schedules will be sent later this week.)

The following persons are available to speak to the media on this issue. Interviews can be arranged by calling: 02-2963741

Dr. Mohammad Ishtayyeh, Minister of Housing and Public Works Ms. Hind Khouri, Minister of State for Jerusalem Affairs Dr. Saeb Erekat, Head of the Negotiations Affairs Department Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, PLC member and Secretary General of Miftah Dr. Samir Huleileh, Cabinet Secretary General, Prime Minister’s Office Mr. Michael Tarazi, Legal Advisor, Ministry of State for Jerusalem Affairs Dr. Khalil Toufakji, Arab Studies Association Dr. Ghassan Khatib, Minister of Planning

Mr. Kadourah Fares, PLC Member Mr. Ziad Abu Zayyad, PLC Member Mr. Hatem Abdel Qader, PLC Member Mr. Elias Zananeri, Executive Director for the Palestinian Peace Coalition

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