March backing settlement housing draws thousands


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Several government ministers were among thousands who marched in support of settlement building in a corridor connecting eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The demonstrators, who marched to the controversial E1 corridor from the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, were protesting the current U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. They included Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel, who asserted that plans for E1 construction would continue, despite the peace process.

Zeev Elkin, Danny Danon, Yariv Levin and Tzipi Hotovely — all members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party — also attended the rally.

“Our message to the prime minister is don’t be afraid to build because it angers the U.S.,” Hotovely said. “We are here because this is our land.”

The Palestinians claim that building in the E1 corridor would cut off Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, break up the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state and sound the death knell to a two-state solution.

In November, Netanyahu canceled a tender for 1,200 housing units in the  corridor. The tender was part of 20,000 housing units to be constructed in the West Bank that were announced the previous day by Israel’s Housing Ministry.

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