The Double Standard of Contiguity

European capitals are in a tizzy over Israel’s announcement that it would take preparatory zoning steps to allow Jewish building in a neighborhood of Maaleh Adumim, a large town right next to Jerusalem. The Palestinian breach of their Oslo commitments by seeking a UN vote, and Hamas’s rocket campaign against Israeli towns, have all been forgotten.

What is such a big deal about the building in the E-1 zone, located in the small area between Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem (and Hebrew University in particular)? The reason for the outrage is that the potential houses would “cut in two” the potential Palestinian state in the West Bank, preventing a “contiguous state.” This claim, widely repeated by credulous journalists such as the New York Time’s Israel correspondent, is manifestly false, as a quick glance at a map show.

Even with the area in question completely built up, a Palestinian state would have a 21K waist at its narrowest point, from east of Maaleh Adumim to Jordan. At the same time, a Palestinian state gives Israel a 15K waist at its narrowest point – the “Auschwitz borders” Abba Eban complained of. Indeed, no one really thinks connecting Maaleh Adumim would “split” the West Bank, which is why all the major peace plans do call for such a connection.

Indeed, even Tzipi Livni, former head of the Kadima party and the great hope of peace processors, rejected ceding Maaleh Adumim, and Sec. Rice opined that “I don’t think that any Israeli leader is going to cede Ma’ale Adumim.”

To put it differently, not connecting Maaleh Adumim means giving it up, which no previous potential agreement suggested. Yet not allowing work in E-1 effectively makes Israel cede this major suburb of Jerusalem even before negotiations.

Another amazing thing: at Friday’s historic UN vote, which country was given the historic task of introducing the Palestinian statehood proposal? None other than the genocidal, ICC-indicted regime of Sudan, which by the way is currently occupying territory, including oil fields of its newly independent neighbor, South Sudan.

[UPDATE: Title changed to better reflect content, eliminate irony.]