Israel's Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged Tuesday to annex the Ariel settlement, located in the West Bank. Olmert reassured the 17,000 settlers of Ariel, the third largest Israeli settlement, that they will eventually become part of Israel. A
"The Ariel bloc will be an integral part of Israel, whatever happens," Olmert said. "Ariel is Israel."
Meanwhile, Israel started the construction work in the "E1 area" connecting Jerusalem to the West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, Israeli reports have indicated. Preparation work for the construction of a police station in E1 got under way this week, Ynetnews reported. In the past few days, bulldozers have commenced work in the area ahead of the construction of what is slated to become the West Bank police headquarters.
The Israeli plan to construct thousands of housing unites in the area aroused international criticism when it was first made public, mainly from the United States. Israeli sources conveyed that oresently the project includes just the construction of a police station and that the construction of 3,500 housing units in the area will start in a later stage.
In weekend interviews with the media, Israeli acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented his plan to withdraw from most West Bank territories to a new border that would surround the large settlement blocs including Ma'aleh Adumim.