JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement on developing the E1 area connecting Maale Adumim with Jerusalem is not new. It’s been bandied about for years. But it brought a maelstrom of international condemnation last week after the UN General Assembly awarded non-member status to the Palestinian Authority.
En route to meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin earlier Wednesday, Netanyahu restated his rejection of the criticism.
“This is the land where Jews have been living for almost 4,000 years. We’re talking about suburbs that belong to the Jerusalem municipality. No map is being changed and nothing is being prejudged,” he told reporters.
Indeed Netanyahu’s frequent affirmation of Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capital of Israel flies in the face of Palestinian leadership who claim the Jewish connection to Jerusalem is fabricated.
“Israeli occupation authorities are trying to find a so-called Jewish historical connection between Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, but all these attempts will fail," former P.A. Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia told reporters in a 2008 interview. Qureia said the Temple Mount is “100 percent Muslim.”
“They are competing against time to created facts on the ground in the surrounding imaginary [Jewish] Temple,” he said, asking the Arab League “to stop the Israeli attempt to create Jewish character in Jerusalem and the al-Aksa mosque.”
Palestinian efforts to destroy archaeological evidence affirming Jewish history on the Temple Mount is well documented. CBN News has reported on Palestinian claims that Jewish biblical sites, such as the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb outside Bethlehem, are Muslim.
Bar Ilan University political science Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, explained why Israel must continue to build in and around its capital city. Inbar believes populating the E1 area with “thousands of Jews” will play a crucial role in the fate of the Jewish state.
The professor says Maale Adumim, located just outside Jerusalem’s city limits, serves as the “linchpin” in Israel’s line of defense along the Jordan Valley. Developing the E1 area will not only protect the nation’s capital from being re-divided, it will also serve a crucial role in protecting the only safe highway for Jews to travel between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan Valley. It also allows the Israel Defense Forces to mobilize troops in the area should that become necessary.
Inbar further dismisses Palestinian claims about contiguity, calling it a “deceptive argument.”
“Free travel between Samaria and Judea can be arranged quite easily by constructing overpasses or tunnels,” he points out, adding that ironically, the Palestinians have put forth the same concept to allay Israeli concerns about a corridor to connect the Gaza Strip with Judea.
According to the professor, the real issue is the division of Jerusalem.
Populating the E1 area with Arabs would isolate Maale Adumim, thereby facilitating the re-division of Jerusalem and undermining Israeli claims to the Jordan Valley, leaving the Jewish state vulnerable -- as it was in the Six Day War -- to attack from its eastern border.
“…if Israel wants to maintain a defensible border along the Jordan Valley it needs to secure the road that leads there from the coast, via an undivided Jerusalem and via Maale Adumim,” Inbar maintains.
“Area E1 is of vital importance for the political future of Jerusalem and for Israel’s chances to establish a defensible line along its eastern border. It is imperative to build homes for Jews there,” he concludes, adding that he hopes “Netanyahu will soon send the bulldozers to create vital irreversible facts on the ground.”