Israel opened a new “Apartheid Road” on Wednesday, January 9, separating Palestinians and settlers in the occupied West Bank. After a delay of years, Route 4370 in the Jerusalem area has been completed and made accessible to traffic. The road connects the settlement of Geva Binyamin to Route 1, the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway, and is the first link in the establishment of the Eastern Ring Road on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Its opening represents yet another step in the progress of the E1 project to link the urban settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim with Jerusalem from the east.
The project was carried out by the Transportation Ministry in conjunction with the Public Security Ministry, the settlers and the Municipality of Jerusalem.
Route 4370 is manned by a new checkpoint which, according to far-right Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, will eventually involve police presence as a “guarantee of [Israeli] sovereignty [in Jerusalem that] I hope will expand to all of Judea and Samaria.”
According to peace organizations Ir Amim, the road was initially conceived by former prime minister Ariel Sharon to address the main international complaint with regard to the E1 project – namely, that it interrupted Palestinian contiguity in the West Bank, and was a clear attempt by Israel to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Ir Amim charged that the road also helps facilitate settlement growth, because it can accommodate a larger volume of traffic, and simultaneously advances the right-wing concept of “Greater Jerusalem.” In its first stage opened this week, which was completed at a cost of NIS 30 million, the new road will be open from 5 am to noon.
Israel Moves to Surround Bethlehem with Settlements
A planned expansion of the illegal Israeli settlement of Efrat that would surround Bethlehem hit the front-page headlines in Palestinian Arabic dailies on Wednesday, January 9.
The newspapers Al-Quds and al-Ayyam reported that Israeli occupation authorities have appropriated 1,200 dunums (300 acres) of Palestinian-owned land to expand the Efrat settlement. The step, which according to al-Quds would completely surrounds Bethlehem with settlements, will enable the planning of a new settlement neighborhood to be called Givat Eitam.