Israel’s Housing Crisis
AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images
Palestinians moved into Israel’s E1 region last Friday and erected tents with the intent of staging a long-term protest against recently planned Israeli settlement construction. The protests are a result of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans, announced on November 30, to build 3,000 homes in E1, which is located directly east of Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s announcement came less than 24 hours after the Palestinian Authority successfully petitioned to be considered a United Nations observer state.
Construction of the homes would link Jerusalem to the nearby Israeli settlement of Maaleh Adumim. This would not only strengthen Israel’s presence in the West Bank, but Palestinian supporters fear it will also cut off the Arab-occupied East Jerusalem from the Arabic town of Ramallah.
Despite being a dry and arid area, E1 is one of the most contentious areas in the West Bank because of its geographical location and political importance.
Should a Palestinian state be established, the Arabs wish to claim East Jerusalem as their capital. Any moves by the Israeli government to cut it off from the West Bank are met with immediate cries of protest.
This latest move by Israel has drawn international criticism, and has been labeled as a major setback to peaceful negotiations on the two-state solution.
Israel said that despite the planned settlement, the West Bank will not be divided. At its thinnest point, the north and south of the West Bank will be connected by a corridor at least 15 kilometers wide. That is just as wide as the thinnest parts of Israel, between the West Bank and the Mediterranean Sea. The Palestinians will still have access to East Jerusalem through Arab districts such as Abu Dis.
Israel intends to continue its plans for construction of the settlement despite the fear of being ostracized by the international community. The plans passed through Israel’s courts last week, meaning Arabs and their supporters now have two months to petition against the construction plans.
On January 11, the Israeli Supreme Court made an injunction ruling that the protesters’ tent encampment could remain in E1 for six days. In the early morning hours of January 13, the Israeli military removed 200 protesters from the site. Netanyahu stated that the court ruling was for the tents themselves, not the protesters.
The haste that Israel has shown in progressing the latest building plans may indicate that it is realizing a Palestinian state may be closer than it expected. Israel can no longer rely on the international community to support its retaining its own sovereign property. Despite the United States denouncing the support of the Palestinians being given the status of observer state in the UN, little is done to ensure a two-state solution where both Israel and the Palestinian Authority benefit.
Israel feels it must resort to more tangible measures to secure its interests in the West Bank. That involves more people in the area—which means more construction and more houses. But these actions will have dangerous side effects. Israel will be further marginalized by the international community, and there will be further protests and clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians. Expect the Israeli-Palestinian tension to continue to simmer until ultimately the Palestinians reach out and violently take East Jerusalem. For more on how Israel will react on these issues in the near future, read Gerald Flurry’s booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy, and see for yourself the beautiful solution that will come for both Israelis and Arabs alike.