Jerusalem plan an­nexes new ter­ri­tory

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER JERUSALEM

IS­RAEL’S JERUSALEM Af­fairs Min­is­ter is study­ing a rad­i­cal new plan for the city which would have nearby set­tle­ments brought into a new mu­nic­i­pal author­ity in a de-facto an­nex­a­tion of dis­puted ter­ri­tory to Is­rael.

The scheme, re­vealed by Rafi Ei­tan to the JC this week, would be highly con­tro­ver­sial and bring Is­rael into di­rect con­flict with the US ad­min­is­tra­tion. In the past, Is­raeli plans to build new Jewish neigh­bour­hoods along the E1 cor­ri­dor be­tween Jerusalem and the West bank set­tle­ment of Maale Adu­mim have caused fric­tion with the US, as well as Pales­tinian protests.

Pen­sion­ers Party head Mr Ei­tan said he en­vis­aged a gov­ern­ment-di­rected su­per-mu­nic­i­pal­ity to in­clude Is­rael’s cap­i­tal, out­ly­ing towns to the west and also nearby West Bank set­tle­ments to the east and south of the city.

Mr Ei­tan, also Pen­sioner Af­fairs and Holo­caust Resti­tu­tion Min­is­ter, has been con­sult­ing with plan­ners and de­mog­ra­phers and, when com­pleted, plans to put to the gov­ern­ment what he de­scribes as a “new ur­ban vi­sion for Jerusalem”.

Like Is­rael’s other cities, al­most all of Jerusalem’s af­fairs are run by a demo- crat­i­cally elected city hall, cur­rently led by Mayor Uri Lupo­lian­ski. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Ei­tan, “City Hall is func­tion­ing, but it’s func­tion­ing badly.” His crit­i­cism echoes most gov­ern­ment de­part­ments on the al­leged lack of vi­sion of the Lupo­lian­ski ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Mr Ei­tan’s pre­ferred op­tion is a new gov­ern­ment-ap­pointed author­ity or min­istry, which would act above City Hall and would also take over many of its plan­ning and bud­getary re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

His new cap­i­tal au­thor­i­ty­would­cov­er­a­conur­ba­tion in­clud­ing in­de­pen­dently run towns such as Mevasseret Zion to the west, and set­tle­ments such as Maale Adu­mim to the east, and Efrata and parts of the Gush Etzion bloc.

Fol­low­ing the 1967 Six-Day War, Is­rael dou­bled the area of Jerusalem by an­nex­ing land to the cap­i­tal’s east that in­cluded 28 Pales­tinian neigh­bour­hoods and vil­lages. Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert has ques­tioned the wis­dom of this de­ci­sion and is re­ported to favour a diplo­matic so­lu­tion ced­ing con­trol of much of th­ese ar­eas to the Pales­tinian Author­ity. How­ever, all Is­raeli gov­ern­ments to date have de­clared that in any out­come, Maale Adu­mim and Gush Etzion will re­main un­der Is­raeli con­trol.

A new plan: Look­ing over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

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