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OPT: The establishment and expansion plans of the Ma'ale Adummim settlement - Spatial and human rights implications (Report)

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Introduction

In February 2009, Ha'aretz newspaper reported that the United States opposed development work in E1, an area that lies within the jurisdictional boundary of Ma'ale Adummim and borders Jerusalem's municipal boundary line. In response, Defense minister Ehud Barak stated that, "Ma'ale Adummim is an inseparable part of Jerusalem and the State of Israel, [and will remain so] in any permanent arrangement."

Even if this position reflects a consensus among Israel's political leadership, the fact remains that, like every other settlement, the city of Ma'ale Adummim is illegal under international law, which prohibits the establishment of settlements in occupied territory.

In 1999, B'Tselem published On the Way to Annexation, a report on the violation of human rights caused by the establishment and subsequent expansion of Ma'ale Adummim. The report focused on the expulsion of Bedouins of the Jahalin tribe from land designated for expansion of the settlement and from land included in the E1 outline plan. A petition to Israel's High Court of Justice objecting to the decision to authorize the outline plan was denied soon after the report was published.

In the decade that has passed since then, the area has undergone significant spatial changes. Following the outbreak of the second intifada and the increase in attacks against Israeli civilians,more stringent restrictions have been imposed on Palestinians' freedom of movement within the West Bank. The government also decided to build a contiguous separation barrier, ostensibly in order to protect the population of Israel from Palestinian attacks, although the barrier runs mostly through the West Bank and not on the Green Line. The planned route of the barrier in the Ma'ale Adummim area would leave the city and the small adjacent settlements (Kfar Adummim, Almon, Qedar, Nofey Prat, and Alon) on the Israeli side of the barrier, creating a partition between the southern and northern sections of the West Bank. Simultaneously, and despite the opposition of the US Administration, Israel began to implement parts of the E1 outline plan, building the new Samaria and Judea Police District Headquarters there and paving an extensive system of roads to serve the hundreds of housing units planned in the area.

The present report has two principal objectives. One, to describe the spatial changes that have taken place in the area since the publication of On the Way to Annexation and their effect on Palestinians' human rights; and two, to examine these changes in light of the history of Ma'ale Adummim and the intentions that lead to its establishment. The examination is based on documents from the Israel State Archives that were only recently opened to public view and are revealed here for the first time. These documents show that already in 1974, the first Rabin government made a decision whose practical effect was the annexation of Ma'ale Adummim to Jerusalem - although no official annexation was declared.