Israel will continue to build in the disputed E-1 zone between the illegally constructed Ma’ale Adumim settlement in the West Bank and Jerusalem, despite American pressure to the contrary, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Thursday.
Olmert also said that if he is elected prime minister in elections later this month, Israel will set down permanent borders within four years, annexing 20% of the Palestinian West Bank and surrounding the rest in a set of enclaves behind 20-foot concrete walls and electrified fences.
According to Olmert, "It is inconceivable that we should speak of Ma’aleh Adumim as a part of the State of Israel, while leaving it as an island or an isolated enclave.
"It’s entirely clear that the [territorial] continuity between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim will be a built-up continuity. This is clear both to the Palestinians and to the Americans. In my view, there is an absolute consensus in Israel on this issue."
Referring to the head of the leftist Meretz party, Olmert said that, "Even Yossi Beilin, with whom I generally disagree on every matter, has said that Ma’ale Adumim must remain within Israel."
He added that "the course of the fence – which until now has been a security fence – will be in line with the new course of the permanent border. There may be cases in which we move the fence eastward, there may be cases in which we move the fence westward, in line with what we agree upon."
Olmert said his Kadima party, if elected, would move decisively in solidifying "Israel as a Jewish state, one in which there is a solid and stable Jewish majority, a majority which is not in danger."
The guiding principle for delineating the permanent borders will be "ingathering [isolated residents of outlying settlements] into large settlement blocs, and thickening these settlement blocs.
"I don’t want to get into their precise definitions now, but everyone knows that Gush Etzion will remain within the state of Israel, and the Ariel bloc will remain within the state of Israel, and the Jerusalem Envelope [the city and its environs] will be part of the state, as well as Ma’ale Adumim."
Olmert refused to specify what a coalition government would look like should he be elected to form the next cabinet. He said he would not disqualify any Jewish Zionist party and that he would not invite an Arab party to the coalition. He also refused to promise that the security portfolio would remain in the hands of Kadima in the next government.
Also on Thursday, highly confidential documents from the Ministry of Justice dating from the early 1990s, copies of which were sent to the ministers of defense, justice and housing as well as the attorney general, confirm the existence of a vast network of ties between Likud and Labor governments, and land dealers and settlers’ associations, for the purpose of acquiring land in the West Bank.
The documents were presented to the High Court of Justice during the hearings for petitions submitted by residents of Bil’in and the Peace Now organization against the construction of hundreds of apartments on village lands and against the route of the fence that bisects them.
In a highly confidential letter sent in November 1990 to the coordinator of activities in the territories, Plia Albeck, who was in charge of the civil department of the State Attorney’s office, wrote that "because this area was apparently purchased by the Hakeren company, and it therefore hold the rights to this area and because it asked from the supervisor of government property to manage it, then this area is apparently government property," even though the senior representative of the Ministry of Justice is not convinced that Hakeren indeed purchased this land legally, and as proof thereof she inserts the word "apparently" twice, she permits the area to be declared "government property."
Albeck asks to maintain complete confidentiality claiming that the revelation of the deals may endanger the sellers’ lives. It should be noted that one of the parties to this deal was land dealer Shmuel Einav, whose name was linked during Aryeh Deri’s trial to a big land deal in the Har Shmuel neighborhood adjacent to Jerusalem, where Palestinian lands were obtained with the aid of falsified documents.