Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Maale Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel visited the E1 area between the city and Jerusalem on Monday with a clear message that this area should be built up, with or without American approval.
The tour took place near a police station, the only Israeli building in E1. "At some point, we will have to build, even if we don't manage to convince the Americans, at least in the settlement blocks," Yishai said.
"I hope we mange to convince them, just as the Palestinians unfortunately have. We will try to convince them that we are eager to end this in a diplomatic way."
Alluding to commitments made in a document by former US President George Bush's administration, Yishai went on to say, "If there is no choice, Israel will have to build in all the settlement blocks based on commitments made by the Americans in the past. This commitment is firm and abiding and cannot be ignored. I hope and believe that the Americans will understand our decision, even if they are not so fond of this decision."
"Waiving the document is no waiver of the E1 territory, or of the settlement blocks of, heaven forbid, of parts of Jerusalem. The national interest is to keep the settlement blocks and E1. I hope the prime minister will convince the Americans."
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said, "The fight for Jerusalem starts with Maale Adumim. There is a national, strategic and security consensus on expanding Maale Adumim and maintaining territorial continuity between it and Jerusalem."
Maaleh Adumim Mayor Kashriel said, The Americans are good friend of Israel, but Israel's foreign policy also has its red lines."
Outpost evacuation continuesMeanwhile, security forces continue to evacuate illegal outposts in the West Bank. Earlier Monday, forces demolished the Maoz Ester outpost, and started to remove the Bnei Adam outpost, but stopped in order to allow the residents to evacuate of their own accord.
"We will construct these buildings within less than a month," the residents promised. "(Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) and (Defense Minister Ehud Barak) will not deter us from continuing to construct and settle the land."
Security forces first arrived at Maoz Ester, which has been demolished and rebuilt several times in recent months. This time, nine structures were demolished. Forces also arrived at the Bnei Adam outpost, where they demolished three structures before stopping to allow residents to evacuate on their own.
According to the Civil Administration, a group of settlers tried to prevent the forces from entering the Maoz Ester by using stone blocks and shoving the officers. Police detained one settler on suspicion of assaulting an officer.
"The Netanyahu government continues with its policy of destruction against the Zionist enterprise and settlement in the Land of Israel," the Land of Israel Faithful movement said in response to the evacuations.
"But the love of the land that blazes in the heart of the Jewish people will not subside and the people will chose the policies of continued construction in the land," the movement added.
The Benjamin Settlers' Committee said, "Defense Minister Ehud's Barak and Central Command chief Gadi Shamni's enthusiasm to destroy every new building belonging to Jews is pitiful. It's sad to see the sovereign State of Israel turning a blind eye to the Arab's wild construction, and obsessively destroying every Jewish shack, four years after the expulsion from Gush Katif and northern Samaria."
Meanwhile, Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer said, "The evacuation of the Maoz Ester outpost is not enough. The people in the outposts that trouble the IDF and the police, harm state security and cost the taxpayers tens of thousands of shekels should be prosecuted."
Efrat Weiss contributed to this report