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December 02, 2012

E-1 Contiguity Fallacy Returns

With Israel's announcement that it plans to proceed with construction in Area E-1, east of Jerusalem, earlier falsehoods about that land reemerge. Thus, Ha'aretz reports that construction in E-1

would effectively bisect the West Bank and sever the physical link between the Palestinian territories and Jerusalem.

Similarly, the New York Times reports:

Construction in E1, in West Bank territory that Israel captured in the 1967 war, would connect the large Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim to Jerusalem, dividing the West Bank in two. The Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem would be cut off from the capital, making the contiguous Palestinian state endorsed by the United Nations last week virtually impossible.

So is it true that construction in E-1 would bisect the West Bank, severing Palestinian contiguity, and cutting off Palestinian areas from Jerusalem? The answer is no. As CAMERA pointed out in 2005 ("The Contiguity Double Standard"):

Palestinian contiguity in the West Bank would be no more cut off with the so-called E-1 corridor than would Israeli contiguity if Israel were to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, even with slight modifications.

Here's why. First, take a look at this map of the region:

e1 continguity.jpg

As CAMERA earlier explained:

The black X marks the approximate location of the new neighborhood near Ma'aleh Adumim. To the west of the X is Jerusalem. The red line surrounding the X is the planned route of the security barrier, which will encircle Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem.

Those who charge that Israeli building in Ma'aleh Adumim severs north-south contiguity disregard the fact that Palestinian-controlled areas would be connected by land east of Ma'aleh Adumim (marked on the map) that is at its narrowest point ~15 km wide.

Moreover, Israel proposes to build tunnels or overpasses to obviate the need for Palestinians to detour to the east through the corridor.

Ironically, many of those who argue for greater contiguity between Palestinian areas, at the same time promote Israeli withdrawal to its pre-1967 boundaries, which (even with minor modifications) would confine Israel to a far less contiguous territory than that of the West Bank. As shown on the map above, there is a roughly 15 km wide strip of land separating the Green Line (and the Security Fence) from the Mediterranean Sea (near Herzliya). Also shown is the circuitous route necessary to travel via this corridor between northern and southern Israel. (e.g. from Arad to Beit Shean.)

Nor is it true that the construction would cut off Palestinian areas from Jerusalem. Access to Jerusalem through Abu Dis, Eizariya, Hizma and Anata is not prevented by the proposed neighborhood, nor would it be precluded by a string of neighborhoods connecting Ma’aleh Adumim to Jerusalem.

Posted by TS at December 2, 2012 03:54 AM


In any case, who cares whether the Palarab territories are cut off from Jerusalem? East Jerusalem will never be part of "Palestine".

Posted by: Bill Poser at December 3, 2012 01:22 AM

Who are these Palestinians that they must have a contiguous state? Have you ever heard of the United States of America? Their territory is not contiguous, Canada's British Columbia sits in between the US states of Washington and Alaska. Have you ever heard of Russia? Their territory is not contiguous. Poland and Lithuania sit between Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia. Even Arab countries are non-contiguous. The Madha and Musandam enclaves of the Arab Country of Oman are surrounded by the United Arab Emirates. There are about 20 other nations that are not contiguous. If these countries feel the need for contiguity, I suggest that they should take care of their own borders and leave the Palestinians to enjoy their non-contiguity just like they do.

Posted by: Dr. Barry Pinchefsky at December 3, 2012 12:02 PM

There is a compelling argument to be made in favor of Israel holding on to E-1, by settling it or otherwise, and a compelling reason why the Palestinian Arabs want it for themselves. Neither one has anything to do with the issue of territorial continuity, although that question is also not so clear-cut as you make it out to be.

Many analyses of the Mideast conflict draw conclusions based on looking at flat maps, such as the one illustrating this post. One of the many facts of topography not well-conveyed by such maps is the elevation of Jerusalem, which is perched at the very crest of the Great Syria-African Rift Valley. Coming north from Rachel's Tomb, the crest line follows Hebron Road for most of its length, then passes east of the Old City, along the top of the Mt. of Olives and Mt. Scopus, and continues northward, roughly via the route of Bar-Lev and Narkis streets. East of the crest, the elevation drops away very sharply, heading down toward Jericho and the Dead Sea, which is the lowest point on earth. Thus, making the detour as your illustration suggests would involve decending and then climing about a kilometer of vertical distance. This is surely onerous, but not so bad that it should stand in the way of "peace in the Middle East". And, as you say, Israel would likely be willing to provide effective territorial continuity at or near the crest, in the form of an extraterritorial system of bridges, tunnels and/or sunken roads.

The real reason that holding on to E-1 is vital to Israel's security is, again, elevation. E-1 is, in effect, an eastward protrusion of the crest, making it a piece of strategic high ground which gives to whoever holds it effective military control of all the surrounding area. This includes the Jerusalem-to-Jericho highway, control of which, in any future conflict, will be absolutely critical to Israel's ability to survive. Thus, it would be the height of folly for Israel to relinquish E-1, without which it would scarcely possess "secure borders". As for the Palestinian Arab side, the fact that it desires E-1 so badly as to have made it a deal-breaker means that long-term coexistence with Israel is not its goal. And the fact that the United States is abetting this demand smacks of a very dangerous naïveté.

Posted by: David Hoffman at December 3, 2012 04:31 PM

Paula Stern shows the hypocrisy of the world and its obsession to force Israel to give up its historic capital.
The World’s Most Pressing Problem Seems to be Hill E1
Paula R. Stern
Dec 3, 2012

Posted by: Ed Frias at December 4, 2012 09:17 AM

Thank you for posting this. It is very disturbing to see groups such as the reform movement spreading the myth that development in E-1 would prevent territorial contiguity. I appreciate your highlighting the facts around this issue.

Posted by: Burton Kopulsky at December 5, 2012 08:23 PM

Thank you for posting this. It is very disturbing to see groups such as the reform movement spreading the myth that development in E-1 would prevent territorial contiguity. I appreciate your highlighting the facts around this issue.

Posted by: Burton Kopulsky at December 5, 2012 08:25 PM

The UN established conditions for a partition but envisioned that the principle antagonists Jews and other Arabs would require inter dependency and co-operation for development. No alternative plan suggested the Arabs living in the partitioned areas could go it alone (And the Muslim and Christian sects had serious and violent divisions of their own, clearly noted in the period of the White Paper). Other plans included the Arab partitions as perhaps a federated interest of Syria, Jordan and other suggestions; but the Arabs of the Palestine Partition were an even greater threat to their Arab brethren than Israel in many instances. The Islamic factor has become more pronounced as it has today in demands sharia law become a pre-condition to "peace" the Ottoman Tanzmats no longer function and minorities other than Muslim are at increasing risk of Islamic zealotry. That aspect we are witnessing throughout the region, the Islamic rebels of Syria trying to depose a more secular tyrant. Egyptians in the streets opposed to Morsi's conditions to impose and elevate more sharia law over civil courts. It is uncertain in my mind if Egypt has ever truly ceded Gaza an Egyptian territory during Ottoman rule and Egyptian in culture into the post-WWII era.
Further confusing the legitimacy of the '67 option is Hamas and the PA's relationship: why is continuity deemed desirable for anything more than spiting Israel? Neither Hamas or the PA, Fatah have recognized Israeli sovereignty, The current proposal based on 67 borders is framed to conform with the stated aim of a one state solution governed by sharia law and the end of the UN's promise and recognition of a Jewish Homeland.

Posted by: jeb stuart at December 9, 2012 03:41 PM

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