(Page 2 of 2)
Ma’ale Adumim, West Bank — According to virtually every permutation of the two-state solution, East Jerusalem would be the capital of a Palestinian state, and a major economic center. But a question mark hangs over where East Jerusalem can expand, and E1 appears to be the only option — hence the claim by the Palestinians that building on E1 would kill their capital before it is born.
The Old City is surrounded on three sides by Jewish suburbs, with pockets of Arab residence. To the north there is Ramat Eshkol and French Hill, to the west is the majority of Jerusalem’s Jewish population, and to the south is the City of David, an archaeological park run by settlers; the Mount of Olives; East Talpiot, and Har Homa. Only to the east is there significant room for expansion — and for the all-important transport links to connect the Palestinian cities of the West Bank.
In Az Za’ayyem, an Arab village in East Jerusalem, Ashraf Khatib, adviser to Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat, pointed to E1, saying that if it is built, his future capital will end where he was standing. “It’s not only about politics — this is about the future growth of the Palestinian people,” he commented to the Forward.
In Ma’ale Adumim, residents suggested that it’s precisely the Palestinian reliance on E1 that caused Netanyahu to advance plans for it. Several residents related to the prime minister’s move by way of the parable in which a wise man tells a family complaining that its house is too small to take in a goat. Then, when the family gets rid of the animal, the house suddenly seems larger.
“It’s like entering a goat,” said Moshe Yaakov, a man in his 50s. He thinks that the specific reason Netanyahu announced the E1 plan was so that it can later reverse it and incur the goodwill of the international community, or win concessions from the Palestinians for doing so.
Shlomo Ashkenazi, 66, believes that though Netanyahu is well aware that international pressure would ultimately prevent him from building on E1, he wants to use the threat to give the Palestinians a sense of urgency to return to the negotiating table.
“He knows there will be [international opposition that he can’t withstand], but he’s saying it to pressure the Palestinians to agree to a just peace,” said Ashkenazi, who also invoked the goat idiom. Ashkenazi’s definition of a “just peace” is one that involves Israel keeping hold of the large settlement blocs, including Ma’ale Adumim.
Triskunov suggested that Netanyahu made the E1 decision “for the elections,” as it would entice right-wing voters. One such undecided voter said that it would sway her. “If he’s strong and stands on his word, I’ll vote for him,” said Esther Shalom, 67. Shalom is taking Netanyahu at his word regarding the expansion of her settlement to E1. “I think he’s very serious,” she said.
While most Ma’ale Adumim residents want E1 built, not everyone does. Israel Melnik, a 54-year-old who works in security, said: “If you build in E1, we’ll cut between the west and the east, and if you want peace, I think this is a bad thing.” He wants to see a two-state solution.
Judy Berger, a pharmacist who has lived in Ma’ale Adumim for 27 years, admits some reticence for a simpler reason. “On the one hand it should be done, and on the other hand it’s going to ruin my view,” she said.
Roll over the map with your mouse, for more information about the settlements:
Contact Nathan Jeffay at email@example.com