The Jerusalem committee of the Zionist Council in Israel recommended on Monday that an emphasis be placed on developing Jerusalem beyond the Green Line, toward the north, south and east.
"The west can wait," Prof. Shlomo Hasson, head of the Floersheimer Institute for Policy Studies and a member of the Jerusalem committee, said at a press conference Monday.
Ma'aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel and two of the top researchers at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, Dr. Yisrael Kimche and Dr. Maya Hoshen, called for the hasty construction of the area known as E-1, between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.
They also called for widened corridors connecting Jerusalem to Ma'aleh Adumim, Givat Ze'ev and the West Bank settlement bloc of Gush Etzion, and spoke against westward expansion.
The committee members said the connection between Jerusalem and the 100,000 Jews living in the greater Jerusalem area cannot be based on roads alone, and must be deepened. Former minister Shimon Sheetrit and the director general of the Zionist Council in Israel, Moshe Ben-Attar, called on the government to take advantage of the letter from U.S. President George W. Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which explicitly states that in light of new developments, it's not realistic to expect a return to the 1949 cease-fire lines and that future agreements will need to take the major Israeli population centers into account.
The Jerusalem committee proposes the establishment of a "Jerusalem Council" of the Jewish people, with the participation of international Jewish organizations, in an effort to raise funds for the development of Jerusalem.
The committee members recommend linking Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim in such a way as to give Palestinians "functional contiguity," not necessarily territorial contiguity, between the two parts of the West Bank.
They also recommend preparing for the possibility of Palestinian municipal self-rule in the context of an interim solution that would place them in a sub-municipality under Israeli sovereignty. "In the absence of advancement toward a final solution in Jerusalem, and in light of the speedy increase in the Palestinian population, we should prepare for new models of rule initiated by Israel," the committee said.
All the speakers at Monday's press conference spoke about the importance of developing the center of Jerusalem and surrounding areas. The committee members said the negative migration from the city is a symptom of a deeper problem rooted in the lack of places to live and work and the deteriorating quality of life in the city.
The committee members also warned that if the plan to build westward (the Safdi plan) were not significantly decreased, the downtown and greater Jerusalem areas would be harmed.