Some areas of the West Bank are particularly sensitive ones because of their importance in preserving the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state. E1, for instance, sits outside of Ma’ale Adumim and contains the Bedouin village of Khal al-Ahmar, which has been slated for demolition and was the scene of protests and violence last week before the Israeli High Court enjoined the government from demolishing it. Building in E1 would separate the northern West Bank (Samaria) from the southern West Bank (Judea), turning what is now a 45 minute journey between Ramallah and Bethlehem into a two hour one, and rendering a future Palestine dependent on a patchwork of tunnels and bypass roads.
Why is it important?
Israel should maintain the current status of places like E1 and Givat Hamatos (which would cut off Jerusalem entirely from the southern West Bank), and the U.S. should maintain its long-standing policy that any new Israeli construction in these areas is a redline that cannot be violated without consequences.
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The New Yorker:
The Maps of Israeli Settlements That Shocked Barack Obama
One afternoon in the spring of 2015, a senior State Department official named Frank Lowenstein paged through a government briefing book and noticed a map that he had never seen before. Lowenstein was the Obama Administration’s special envoy on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, a position that exposed him to hundreds of maps of the West Bank. (One adorned his State Department office.)
Typically, those maps made Jewish settlements and outposts look tiny compared to the areas where the Palestinians lived. The new map in the briefing book was different. It showed large swaths of territory that were off limits to Palestinian development and filled in space between the settlements and the outposts. At that moment, Lowenstein told me, he saw “the forest for the trees”—not only were Palestinian population centers cut off from one another but there was virtually no way to squeeze a viable Palestinian state into the areas that remained. Lowenstein’s team did the math. When the settlement zones, the illegal outposts, and the other areas off limits to Palestinian development were consolidated, they covered almost sixty per cent of the West Bank.
Israel Policy Exchange:
The Problem With the Settlement Blocs
MK Eitan Cabel made headlines over the weekend when he admonished Israel’s center-left for not supporting annexation of West Bank settlement blocs – the largest Jewish settlements that ring the Green Line. Cabel’s comments were particularly newsworthy because he is a member of the Labor Party, traditionally a central proponent of territorial compromise and a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Still, on its surface, Cabel’s logic is sound, as most Israelis, outside observers, and even many Palestinians tacitly accept that under a two state agreement the blocs will remain under Israeli control. Yet none of this justifies MK Cabel’s remarks, which represent a seriously flawed reading of the settlement project.
The problem is that the right shares Cabel’s concept of annexation, only their vision does not stop at the blocs. Some members of the current Knesset coalition are circulating proposals for annexing all of Area C (60 percent of the West Bank, including the blocs). A Trump administration plan – if it is ever released – might see Israel annex as much as half of the West Bank. In the face of such expansionist programs, bloc annexation (especially if carried out by this government) could open the gate to taking on other territories. If support for absorbing the blocs now comes from Labor or other center-left parties, it can be interpreted as a white flag of surrender.