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Israeli consensus much prefers Ma'aleh Adumim to peace

Netanyahu didn’t invent the E-1 dealbreaker that’s got the world so mad at him; it goes back to Rabin and reflects overwhelming Israeli opinion.

Except for right wingers, people look at the outrage over Bibi’s revival of the E-1 plan, which would connect Jerusalem and the eastward Ma’aleh Adumim settlement with thousands of new homes, and say: Well, that’s Bibi for you, picking fights for no good reason. Who needs more settlement construction?

But if you ask them – “them” meaning all but the left-wing fringe among Israeli Jews and the country’s supporters abroad – whether they’re willing to give up Ma’aleh Adumin and its 40,000 settlers in a peace deal with the Palestinians, they’ll say hell no.

Ma’aleh Adumim, 4.5 kilometers east of Jerusalem, built in 1975, is not only “within the national consensus,” it is deep in the heart of the national consensus. Ma’aleh Adumim is thought of, correctly, as a suburb of Jerusalem; the people aren’t popularly regarded as settlers but as average middle-class Israelis; in past elections, a decent percentage of them voted Labor, and a few even voted Meretz.

It’s not one of those “tiny, isolated settlements,” it’s a “settlement bloc,” it’s one of the “Jerusalem-area” settlements, it “protects Jerusalem” by being on the high ground nearby, it gives Israel “defensible borders” – it’s a Jerusalem security defensible borders settlement bloc with 40,000 people, for fuck’s sake, do you want to give that up, are you crazy?

And here’s the thing – to keep Ma’aleh Adumim, Israel has to build E-1, those thousands of homes connecting it to Jerusalem, because otherwise the only thing connecting it to the capital will be a thin highway with nothing but Palestine on either side. Indefensible. Not viable. Ma’aleh Adumim would be isolated. So if you want to keep it – and who doesn’t, except the left-wing fringe? – you have to build E-1, like Bibi says.

But not just Bibi – every one of his predecessors insisted on keeping Ma’aleh Adumim. As the right-wing Jerusalem Post pointed out in an editorial titled “The Logic of E-1”:

In October 1994, while in the midst of hammering out the Oslo Accords, then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin declared that a “united Jerusalem” would include Ma’aleh Adumim as the capital of Israel under Israel sovereignty. As part of the effort to make sure Ma’aleh Adumim remained an integral part of a “united Jerusalem,” Rabin provided then-mayor Benny Kashriel with annexation documents for the E1 area –a strip of land that connects the capital with Ma’aleh Adumim.

As prime minister in 1996, Shimon Peres reaffirmed the government’s position that Israel will demand applying Israeli sovereignty over Ma’aleh Adumim in the framework of a permanent peace agreement. Dovish politician and co-author of the Geneva Initiative, Yossi Beilin, supported annexing Ma’aleh Adumim. And the 2000 Clinton Parameters called for Israel to be compensated for the partitioning of Jerusalem by annexing Ma’aleh Adumim.

During the 2008 Annapolis negotiations, then-prime minister Ehud Olmert and then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni demanded that Ma’aleh Adumim remain a part of Israel.

To paraphrase what other members of the left-wing fringe have been saying, the problem with Ma’aleh Adumim is that it can’t be smoothly annexed as part of a land swap with the Palestinians, as might be done with Alfei Menashe, Modi’in Illit, Beitar Illit and some other large settlements. No, to annex Ma’aleh Adumim,  it first has to be connected to “Jewish Jerusalem,” and doing that requires building thousands of Jewish homes in the present gap. What is the significance of that? As Noam Sheizaf writes:

It is the final brick in the great project Likud and Kadima prime ministers have been carrying out in the last two decades, which is designed to encircle the Palestinian part of Jerusalem with Israeli settlements and neighborhoods in such a way that would permanently prevent any division of the city, or any other territorial compromise, for that matter.

Adds the New York Times:

Ramallah and Bethlehem would be cut off from the capital [by E-1], making the contiguous Palestinian state endorsed by the United Nations last week virtually impossible.”

This is the price of keeping Ma’aleh Adumim. This is the price that not only Netanyahu but Olmert, Barak, Peres and Rabin before him demanded the Palestinians pay, and this is the true heart of the Israeli consensus: No to a Palestinian state, no to a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem.

Things may change one day, but so far that’s been the extent of Israel’s “generous” peace offers. Unfortunately, the country’s blindness and arrogance toward the Palestinians didn’t begin with Bibi.

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    1. Steve Kay

      The blindness and arrogance I see is the assumption that there is a willing peace partner in the Palestinians, by left thinkers like you! You would give Israel away or make it a non-Jewish state , blindly ignoring history. It would be great to see your same energy and passion directed towards the murdered in Syria — but you focus on the permitting of the right for new construction in Israel’s capitol.Land for peace has never been a solution. Israel’s size is just the excuse. Its existence, to the Palestinians, is the problem.

      Reply to Comment
      • Richard Lightbown

        “Blindly ignoring history”: and what history might that be? The Nakba/massacres such as Deir Yassin/biological warfare against Akka/Qibya in 1953/Suez in 1956 (including massacres at Khan Younis and Rafah/ethnic cleansing of the Golan and massacre of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai plus more expulsion of Palestinians after 1967/Another Sinai massacre in 1974/illegal weaponry such as nerve, DU, white phosphorus, flechettes, DIME/siege of Gaza…well you get the picture I’m sure. Funny how all this just happened to slip your mind.

        Then you have the gall to shed crocodile tears for Syria (as if Israel has not been meddling there). You could also cry for the DRC: except of course the war there is partially funded by blood diamonds traded by Israel so perhaps we had better not.

        Truth is it is not Palestinian intransigence that is the problem, it’s the fascist policies of the state of Israel that is preventing peace with the Palestinians and creating problems for the rest of the Middle East at the same time.

        Reply to Comment
        • Steve Kay

          your mumbled conspiracy propagandist revision of history probably goes well with tooth fairy you believe in. Not worth even commenting on the distortions you opine

          Reply to Comment
          • calum

            haaha, so why did you comment then? obviously stirred you up.

            he is absolutely right though, have you ever heard of the phrase “you reap what you sow?” palestinian intransigence stems from israeli actions.

            Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      As someone who has spent a miserable month doing reserve duty in Ma’aleh Adumim, I can say that it is a scary place to live in, encircled on all sides by Palestinian villages and Beduin camps who despise its existence in their midst (for very good reason!). The settlers there are a mix of moderate and extreme rightists who view the Palestinians in neighboring Abu Dis and Azaria with fear and loathing (mixed with the usual contempt Jewish settlers have for Arabs). It is a place I would personally not want to live in, and was glad to be out of.
      The sooner we get rid of these types of settlements (Ariel is included in this bag), the better it will be for all concerned.
      The E1 plan is a bluff used by all governments to pacify the howling, foam-at-the-mouth rightist masses. After the election it will go back into the desk drawer where it belongs. Ma’aleh Adumim will NEVER be a part of Israel. I challenge all Israelis to go there to see why.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        You are not describing Maale Adumim. There is no Arab ‘midst’ there. There is desert and Jewish settlements on three sides, a wall on the fourth and a modern highway into Jerusalem that bypasses the Arab neighborhoods. I too challenge all Israelis to go to Maale Adumim and not want to acquire housing there whenever the construction freeze that has been in place since 2009 is lifted.

        Are you entirely sure you were in Maale Adumim recently?

        Reply to Comment
        • Danny

          I was there in 2003. It probably grew since then, but I doubt the feelings of fear and loathing are gone. The wall certainly makes the neighboring Palestinian towns seem like miles away (even though they are actually a stone’s throw away), but the general malaise of the place will always remain because it is what it is – an illegal colony on Palestinian land.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Danny, in 2003 fear and loathing could have been described as the national mood. Since then the wall went up and the tunnel highway opened. It is one of the nicest places to live in the Jerusalem area. You should visit again.

            Reply to Comment
    3. Kolumn9

      I don’t understand the article. Doesn’t Maale Adumim stay in Israel even according to the Geneva Accord maps agreed to by Palestinian representatives and in the 1.9% of land swaps as presented previously by official Palestinian representatives? How then can Maale Adumim be ‘preferred’ over peace when it doesn’t get in the way of peace?

      Reply to Comment
      • The Geneva Initiative gives Ma’aleh Adumim to Israel in a land swap, but Abbas didn’t agree to Olmert’s inclusion of it – he didn’t agree to Har Homa, either.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          You are correct. In the Geneva accord it is kept in Israel, but the PA didn’t accept it as such in 2008. Wouldn’t that suggest that an equally accurate headline would be ‘Abbas prefers Maaleh Adumim to peace’?

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9, I Like that comment!

            Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            “Wouldn’t that suggest that an equally accurate headline would be ‘Abbas prefers Maaleh Adumim to peace’?”

            No, because he is being asked to cede it *to* Israel, he isn’t demanding that he be allowed to annex it *from* Israel.

            Start from 1st principles: any inch of territory over the Green Line Does Not Belong To Israel.

            So if Israel wants *this* settlement or *that* settlement then Israel is demanding that Abbas cede that territory to it.

            Abbas’ refusal to agree to that demand does not suggest that he “prefers Maaleh Adumim to peace” so much as it suggests that he wants a viable and contiguous state, and ceding Maaleh Adumim to Israel will deprive him of that.

            Reply to Comment
        • Anselm Kiersch

          Har Homa was not included to be annexed by Israel according to the Geneva Initiative. But at that time there were only living 1.000 – 2.000 people there. Today its 13.000, so in any “realistic” future landswap it would probably be inculded.

          Reply to Comment
      • Andrew Miller

        Larry addressed this in the text:

        “And here’s the thing – to keep Ma’aleh Adumim, Israel has to build E-1, those thousands of homes connecting it to Jerusalem, because otherwise the only thing connecting it to the capital will be a thin highway with nothing but Palestine on either side. Indefensible. Not viable. Ma’aleh Adumim would be isolated.”

        The Geneva Initiative gives Ma’aleh Adumim to Israel, but not E1.

        Reply to Comment
    4. I was with you until the last paragraph. Maybe you forgot the offer to divide Jerusalem, to give Palestine sovereignty over the Temple Mount, etc.? The Palestinian reaction to that offer is exactly what caused the left to collapse twelve years ago.

      For the record, I’m not on the far left fringe, but I don’t like that E-1 thing either, and my answer to giving up Ma`ale Adumim in exchange for peace would be, “Hell yes.” That’s just a no-brainer. And I think there are many Israelis who’d agree with me.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Richard Witty

      There are always flanks.

      That is how empires “logically” expand. Even those that are not driven by greed or glory, are often driven to expand by the logic of “if we don’t take control of this, then that will be exposed”, as Larry identified.

      It is how Rome was “decided” to expand in many critical junctures. It was how nazi Germany did similarly, before it determined that it could take over Europe entirely.

      Risk aversion alone leads likud to need to annex more and more of the west bank.

      It’s “strategy” though does not include the complement of peace/relationship building with defense/risk aversion, but only or nearly only just the defense/risk aversion approach.

      It’s a sign of the absence of strategic skill, merely political agility, but not political construction.

      I haven’t seen a reliable map. All that have been presented to me have been from partisan sources. Does E-1 in fact cut off East Jerusalem from rest of the West Bank entirely, or just make it more inconvenient?

      Reply to Comment
      • I think Richard exactly right. Israeli State “necessities” expand by defense and security creep. Expansion insulates and connects previous expansion, which requires new expansion in turn. The only way to expand from E1 will be up and down.

        On the bright side, the Bank is finite, so there will come a day when expansion stops.

        Reply to Comment
    6. Zvi Leve

      Ma’aleah Adumim certainly is considered a legitimate suburb of Jerusalem by most Israelis, but it does not necessarily follow that most Israelis feel the need to develop the corridor in order to create ‘contiguity’ between it and Jerusalem.

      Just like Jerusalem was connected to the rest of Israel by a single road for many years, there is no reason that a similar arrangement cannot be negotiated over Ma’aleh Adumim. We also know that the precarious nature of this arrangement led to war and territorial expansion, but this time it would be in the Palestinians best interests to prevent a repeat of those events….

      Reply to Comment
    7. Ira Weissman

      Larry, you know better than this being here on the ground. The quote from the NY times is completely false. E1 in NO WAY blocks access to Jerusalem from Ramallah or Bethlehem. As you know, Ramallah is North West of Jerusalem and Bethlehem is South of Jerusalem, while E1 and Maaleh Adumim are East of Jerusalem. I expect the NYT to lie about the facts regarding Israel, but what’s your excuse?

      Reply to Comment
    8. The Trespasser

      There was no peace LONG before Maale Adumim was ever planned…

      Reply to Comment
    9. aristeides

      The problem is that Israel already has it all, so why should it give anything away? What do you think it is, a freier?

      All this talk of peace. As far as Israelis are concerned, there already is peace. They are under no attack from the west bank. The situation is entirely one-sided. Israel oppresses the west bank, the west bank suffers.

      Of course Israelis see no reason to change this.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Gil Franco

      Right, Israel has a simple choice between peace and keeping Ma’ale Adumim. Derfner’s articles become more and more like comments on Huffington Post.

      Danny, I think you are confusing Ma’ale Adumim and Kfar Adumim. Very different places.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Richard Witty

      An insightful article.

      My own view on the state of the two-state approach, peace.


      To summarize, that the only option remaining already, is the Fayyad option that does not seek the removal of settlers, but allows them to remain in Palestine (West Bank + Gaza?) as Palestinian citizens.

      I don’t believe that any scenario that includes forced mass removal of settlement residents is feasible.

      The fall back is to shift to one-person one-vote (of present residents only), temporarily form a single state, then quickly conduct a binding referendum of three choices, and three consents for each resident and cumulatively for each contiguous 225 square mile blocs (equivalent to 15 x 15 miles square) or some other contiguous construction.

      1. Do you prefer to live in a single state?
      2. Do you prefer to live in an Israeli (Jewish) state?
      3. Do you prefer to live in a Palestinian national state?

      A. Would you accept living in a single state?
      B. Would you accept living in an Israeli state?
      C. Would you accept living in a Palestinian national state?

      Reply to Comment
    12. Jan

      Some of the comments on this page prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Palestinians do not have nor have they ever had a partner for peace.

      It has been more than obvious to anyone with half a brain that Israel has long preferred to have the land than to have peace.

      Israel is a colonizing state and one that is earning the ire of the world. One day they will be left completely on their own as a result of their land theft and their colonizing policies.

      Sadly as the world turns against Israel it will likely turn against Jews living around the world. As a Jew with children and grandchildren I would not like them to become targets of anti-semitism because of the vile actions of the state that says it is the “Jewish homeland.”

      Reply to Comment
      • XYZ

        THe choice facing Israel is NOT “peace or settlements”. It is “settlements and no peace, or no settlements and no peace”. Most Israelis now, after 20 years of terror and rockets coming as a result of the Oslo agreements finally understand that and will vote accordingly.

        Reply to Comment
      • Mitchell Cohen

        There was a time when Jewish apostates said that if only Jews would convert and stop being stubborn about staying Jewish then ALL Jews (including those who converted out, but were still not trusted by their adopted fellow co-religionists) would be left alone and anti-semitism would end. The more things change the more they stay the same, only now Jews who are stubborn about wanting Jews to have self-determination (i.e. Zionism) are the obstacle to anti-semitism disappearing from the globe. And before the “you are using the anti-semitism card to shield Israel from criticism” comments come flying at me, I am not talking about legitimate criticism of Israel, but those who want her to disappear (which are the norm, rather than the minority on this site)….

        Reply to Comment
        • aristeides

          Sophistry sophistry

          If Israel stopped self-determinationing itself on Palestinian land, it would go a long way towards eliminating the problem. But no, instead of admitting the reality, you drag in the old antisemitism card.

          Reply to Comment
          • Mitchell Cohen

            Nice knee jerk reaction to my post, Aristeides. If you had read my post to the end, I said there is a different between criticism of Israel versus wanting/striving for Israel to disappear (i.e. you and too many other posters on this site). Sophistry that!!!!

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Your last comment is irrelevent. The problem is that what you call “self-determination” is simply theft. To call theft “self-determination” is simply mendacious.

            Reply to Comment
          • Mitchell Cohen

            I really don’t want to waste time fighting lies and propaganda (i.e. that all the land belonged to the Arabs/Palestinians). That is a crock of cr*p and I think you know it. So yes, Aristeides, as far as I am concerned not only are you a liar, but you are an anti-semite. For the past year and a half, I have witnessed your posts to be not only anti-Israel (that is not so unique on this site), but anti-Judaism. You are just a more sophisticated version of Edith Ann and Joachim (remember them).

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            The arrogance of a thief is limitless. The greed of a thief is limitless.

            Judaism says, “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not covet/take … anything that belongs to thy neighbor.” You are the one who violates the most basic tenets of Judaism.

            Reply to Comment
          • Mitchell Cohen

            The arrogance of a liar is limitless. Take your “hasbara” elsewhere and please don’t preach to me about Judaism. You couldn’t give a cr*p about it, except when you want to attack it. PS did you ever leave America (or at least give back the land your house is sitting on to the descendants of the native Americans who were there before) like one of the bloggers on here suggested you do or are you just a fake? I’m done….

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            The unoriginality of an apologist is likewise limitless.

            It’s a really simple concept: It’s not yours.

            Reply to Comment
        • XYZ

          In Spain, after the expulsion of the Jews in 1492, all the remaining Jews converted to Christianity. This didn’t help them…they were then hounded for generations with suspicion they were not “authentic” converts by the Inquistion. Also Jews were kept out of important positions by the new demand for “limpieza”, i.e. “pure, clean blood” without Jewish ancestry, which was a new, racial form of antisemitism that predated Nazism by centuries.

          To fast-forward to today, even if Israel were to agree to a “single-state solution” and give in to all the Arab demands, there still wouldn’t be peace. The large, undigested Jewish community remaining in the country would be viewed as a bone-stuck-in-the-throat by the Arab/Muslim population and it would be claimed that they were “too powerful”. This is the reason Uri Avnery gives for opposing the “single-state solution”…because it wouldn’t solve anything. It would lead to a situation like that in Lebanon where the large Christian minority is resented by the Muslim majority. Christian communities throughout the Middle East are in decline and there is large-scale emigration. The same would happen to the Jews in an Arab-ruled Palestinian (and this is what would have happened had there not been partition in 1948 and Israel had not be created).

          Reply to Comment
      • XYZ

        Why was there so much murderous, genocidal antisemitism BEFORE the state of Israel arose? I’ll take my chances with the current situation, thank you.

        Reply to Comment
    13. Jan

      Here is a question that needs to be answered. Why has there been anti-semitism for so many years and in so many places? What have Jews done to incur the ire of so many in so many places?

      That is a question that my Jewish friends and I have long pondered.

      Reply to Comment
      • The reasons for anti-Semitism are obviously worth thinking about. But when you ask how the Jews “incur the ire” of gentiles, it seems you’re saying the Jews brought it on themselves, that the Jews deserved it, and if that is what you’re saying, you’re a textbook anti-Semite.

        Reply to Comment
      • Mitchell Cohen

        @Jan, because we were/are too religious, to secular, to liberal, to conservative, to communist, too capitalist, too assimilationist, too particular-list, too lazy (i.e. parasites), too successful (Jews are far too represented in far too many fields). In short, why is the sky blue? Oh, I forgot because we answer questions with questions….:-)

        Reply to Comment
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