The Israeli defense ministry has approved the construction of a separate road in the occupied West Bank to divide Israeli and Palestinian motor traffic. This was announced by Israeli defense minister Naftali Bennett on March 9, Monday. The new road, which will connect the Northern and Southern parts of the West Bank, will also facilitate the construction of roughly 3,500 more illegal Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land. The Israeli settlement project had been put on hold for the last eight years due to criticism and opposition from the international community.
Dubbed the “sovereignty road” and claimed to be “for Palestinians” by Israel, the new road will connect the Palestinian neighborhoods of Anata, Ezzaim, Hizma, and Ar-ram, which lie north of the illegal Israeli settlement, Maale Adumim. The Palestinian neighborhoods will be linked to one another, without having to enter the Maale Adumim settlement area. It would also allow Israel to continue expanding its illegal settlements in the highly contentious East 1 or E-1 area of the occupied East Jerusalem. This would lead to effectively cutting off parts of the Northern West Bank to the Southern areas, and further putting in peril the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state.
Just before the Israeli general elections of March 2020, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had approved the restarting of the E-1 settlement projects, drawing criticism from human rights groups as well as from the international community. The planned new construction will also connect the settlements of Kfar Adumim and Maale Adumim with one another in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli control.
Settlement monitoring group Peace Now has condemned the approval for construction of the new road in a statement, saying that “it is bad news for Israel as it enables annexation toward rendering a two-state solution insoluble… there is no desire here to improve Palestinian transport, only to expand settlements.” It also claimed that “the planned road would allow Israel to cut the West Bank in half, build up E1 and the West Bank barrier, and shut down the possibility of developing a viable Palestinian state.”
Palestinian authority (PA) presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh also denounced the approval for the apartheid road, deeming it another blow to Palestinian hopes for an independent state. The Palestinian foreign ministry in a statement said: “this would close the door once and for all to the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
“This move delivers a severe blow to all international efforts aimed at launching a peace process and serious negotiations leading to the implementation of the two-state solution,” the statement adds. It also calls upon the international community, including the United Nations Security Council and the European Union, to take concrete actions to roll back these Israeli violations of international law and stop Israeli war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.