Jerusalem plan annexes new territory
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.
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