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Israel advances plan for ‘apartheid’ road

Israel's planned new road will split Palestinians from their land and jeopardies the demographic contiguity of any future Palestinian state

May 5, 2023 at 4:13 pm

The project for a new road in the E1 area of the Occupied West Bank that will segregate Israeli settlers and Palestinians is being finalised, reported Haaretz.

The road, which would begin near the Palestinian village of Az-Za’ayyem and continue through the Palestinian town of Al-Eizariya, has been termed the “sovereignty road” by former Defence Minister, Naftali Bennett, who approved the project in 2020.

He explained that the road would be separate from those used by vehicles with Israeli licence plates and would allow Palestinian traffic to bypass the Ma’aleh Adumim bloc, effectively annexing the area.

Bennett called the move the application of “sovereignty in deeds not words”. Meanwhile, Palestinian activists have argued that the E1 project destroys any possibility of a contiguous Palestinian State.

According to Haaretz, the Israeli Finance and Transportation Ministries have funded a further 30 million shekels for the project, resulting in the final cost of the plan to 279 million shekels ($76 million).

The municipality of Ma’aleh Adumim is pushing for the construction of the road, as it would deny Palestinians access to parts of the West Bank. The municipality’s website, in 2021, stated that the road will achieve to “separate the transportation between Palestinian and Israeli populations in the area so that the movement of Palestinian vehicles will be possible without them passing through Ma’aleh Adumim and nearby Jewish communities. On the political level, the road will connect Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim and will allow for further construction in Jewish communities in the E1 area.”

Netta Amar-Shiff, a human rights lawyer specialising in the rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Territory, appealed to the Israeli authorities after being notified of the drilling in the area that is due to start soon. She highlighted in her appeal that the road construction is illegal since the seizure of private Palestinian lands is being financed by non-military ministries.

The settlement watchdog, Peace Now, condemned the road construction calling it an “Apartheid Road”.

The organisation told Haaretz that the road will also result in “the expulsion of Khan Al-Ahmar, which right-wing activists and the government have been promoting for years. They will do so to Khan Al-Ahmar and to dozens of other Palestinian communities in the region.”

Khan Al-Ahmar, which has been demolished and rebuilt several times in recent years, is in the West Bank, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Adumim, and close to Route 1, a highway that connects East Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley.

“It is an apartheid road designed to cut off Palestinian access to a vast area at the heart of the West Bank, thereby actually annexing it to Israel,” they said.

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