Ahead of Biden visit, Israel quietly pushes back settlement plans

Israel postpones Civil Administration meeting until months after presidential visit.

By World Israel News Staff

The Israeli government has postponed the advancement of plans to expand Jewish building in Judea until four months after U.S. President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel, likely due to fear of an American backlash.

A meeting of the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee, during which the E-1 project was likely to have been formally approved, was set to take place a few days after Biden’s visit.

However, the body announced on Monday that the session had been pushed back to September.

On Friday, 29 progressive Democrats sent Biden a letter calling for the U.S. to pressure Israel not to move forward with the plan.

“We urge you to continue emphasizing in the lead-up to [US President Joe Biden’s July 13-14] visit that settlement construction in E-1 remains a red line for the United States and to use every diplomatic tool at your disposal to ensure that Israel does not further advance these devastating plans,” they wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides said that he had urged the Israeli government to put the plan on the backburner in March.

“[You] can’t stop everything” and have to “pick [your] battles,” but “E1 was a disaster. I went full bore on E1,” he told left-wing advocacy group Peace Now during a webinar.

“It is a very important area which if [built] could cut off any possibility of a capital for the Palestinians,” he said.

A master plan for the E-1 project, which would connect the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem by building 3,412 housing units in the space between the two cities, has existed for more than two decades.

It was originally drawn up in 1994 by Yitzhak Rabin’s government, and plans received further approval from subsequent prime ministers including Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert.

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu fast-tracked the E-1 plan for official Defense Ministry approval in late 2020, but little has happened since then.

The plan to build on the currently empty hilltop, which is classified as state land by Israel, has been repeatedly shoved due to left-wing backlash and international pressure.

The plan would connect Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem. Critic erroneously claim the plan would cut off Palestinian access to Jerusalem or break the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state.

According to Israel advocacy group Stand With Us, the New York Times was forced to issue a correction after making those claims in a number of articles.