The second centerpiece of Netanyahu’s October 2 appearance is equally disturbing. The Washington Post quoted the Prime Minister as saying he was announcing a period of “enhanced development.” The Post went on:

“’We will build thousands of housing units here,’” he [Netanyahu] said. “’We will add the industrial zone needed and the expansion needed to allow for the advanced development of this place… This place will be part of the state of Israel…’”

We have monitored developments in and around Ma’ale Adumim for more than a quarter of a century. Exhibiting caution, until now we have stated that the increased pressure on Khan al Ahmar alone was not a clear indication that the decision to proceed with E-1 was imminent. That is no longer the case: the green light to Givat Hamatos, the support for de facto annexation in the framework of an umbrella municipality, the location of the October 2 event and the mention of thousands of new settlements units leads to the inescapable conclusion that the threat of approving and implementing E-1 is a real and present danger, even if not yet explicitly declared by Netanyahu.

The last time Netanyahu took action was in December 2012, in the wake of a UNGA resolution granting the Palestinians non-member status (we covered this in detail here). In a punitive measure, he ordered the E-1 plan be deposited for public review. At that time, as prior to that in the past, the only thing that prevented Netanyahu from moving forward with the settlement of E-1 (and related settlement expansion in the Ma’ale Adumim area) was fear of the response from the international community, and especially of the United States.  More than 6 months into the Trump Era, there is every indication that fear of a negative U.S. engagement is less likely than in the past. With a Brexit-torn Europe and a world preoccupied with North Korea and Crimea, Netanyahu may well believe that he as it liberty to proceed with E-1 with minimal repercussions, and ones that he can contain in ways not possible in the past.

Further reading:

Peace Now statement 9/25: “This type of forceful evacuation of protected persons constitutes a severe violation of international humanitarian law…”
Haaretz lead editorial, 9/24: Stop the Forced Uprooting of Bedouin Communities From the West Bank
Haaretz 9/17: Bedouin in Unauthorized West Bank Village Urged to Relocate, Warned of Evictions
B’Tselem 9/14: Israel moves to advance forcible transfer of Khan al-Ahmar
B’Tselem 9/4: Hagai El-ad letter to Israeli Govt officials re: war crime