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February 25, 2020 10:16 am

Netanyahu Says Will Press Ahead With E-1 Settlement Project in West Bank

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avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to supporters at a Likud party rally as he campaigns ahead of the upcoming elections, in Rishon Lezion, Israel, Feb. 18, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday he was moving forward with a plan to build some 3,500 homes for settlers in one the most sensitive areas of the West Bank, a project frozen after international criticism.

Palestinian and foreign opponents of the construction plan for the E-1 area had cautioned that Israeli housing in the corridor’s barren hills could bisect the West Bank, cut off Palestinians from Jerusalem and further dim their hopes for a contiguous state.

“I have given instructions to immediately publish for deposit the plan to build 3,500 housing units in E-1,” Netanyahu said, using an administrative term for the first phase of a planning process.

“This had been delayed for six or seven years,” he said in a speech, six days before a national election in which the right-wing Likud party leader is seeking to shore up backing from settlers and their supporters.

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The E-1 plan would expand the large settlement of Maale Adumim, effectively connecting it to Jerusalem, about a 15-minute drive away.

On Feb. 20, Netanyahu announced he was reviving a project to build 3,000 new homes at Givat Hamatos, on the southern outskirts of Jerusalem.

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