Opening of controversial West Bank police station postponed
PInauguration ceremony of police headquarters in E1 area between Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem won't be held as planned Monday. Public Security Ministry official says opening delayed for 'technical and bureaucratic reasons,' regardless of US secretary of state's visit to region
The police have decided to indefinitely postpone the opening of a police station in the E1 area, between the town of Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem.
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter rejected claims that the opening was delayed due to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to the region. The United States has strongly opposed Israeli construction plans in the area.
"The Judea and Samaria Police will operate from this building. This has nothing to do with Rice's visit," the minister said in a closed meeting.
The station's inauguration ceremony had been scheduled for Monday, when Rice is expected to meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Senior officials, including Minister Dichter, were due to speak at the ceremony.
A Public Security Ministry official said that "the problem is bureaucratic in essence. The bureaucracy work has not been completed, a number of forms are missing, and we have therefore decided not to open the station at the date initially set. A new date will be set later on."
Minister Dichter said in a closed forum, "This has nothing to do with the secretary of state's visit. We stress that the Judea and Samaria Police's headquarters will operate from the E1 area for certain. This is unrelated to any diplomatic issue."
The project would link Jerusalem with one of the biggest West Bank settlements two miles away and could sever a future Palestinian state from its intended capital in east Jerusalem. Israel has built the police station, but frozen plans for some 3,500 housing units nearby.
Police sources told Ynet that "form No. 4", allowing the building to be populated, had yet to be received, leading to the temporary delay.
Efrat Weiss and The Associated Press contributed to this report