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Monday, June 16, 2008

Israel finally tells Condi where to stick it

On Friday, Israel greeted the prospective arrival of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with the news that the government had authorized the construction of 1300 new housing units for Jews in 'east' Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhood. On Sunday, they followed up by announcing that the new units were part of a larger plan that would see some 40,000 new Jewish housing units built in Jerusalem over the next several years. At every stop on her trip, Rice, who is leaving late Monday, criticized the new housing units. But Israel has ignored the criticism. Even Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert told Rice that Israel will continue to build in Jerusalem.
Olmert, meeting on Sunday with Rice, told her that the construction would continue "in the Jewish neighborhoods that are expected to remain Israeli under any agreement." He was referring most specifically to the latest-announced plan: the construction of 1,300 apartments in the hareidi-religious neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.

Ramat Shlomo is situated east of Ramot and west of French Hill, upon hills that were totally barren during the 19 years they were under Jordanian control. Nearly a year ago, the Antiquities Authority announced that it had found in Ramat Shlomo the quarry [link includes pictures. CiJ] that supplied the giant stones for the building of the Temple Mount.

The Jerusalem Municipality also announced, late last week, its approval of a 12-year-plan to build close to 40,000 new apartments in various city neighborhoods. Some of the apartments will be built in Gilo, Pisgat Ze'ev, Ramot and Har Homa - all located in areas formerly under Jordanian control.

Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) made headlines when he came out strongly against Rice: "I would like to know how it would look if someone would say that the U.S. has no right to develop Washington... Rice doesn't consult with anyone before approving a new city in the U.S."
And why do Israel's 'leaders' suddenly feel free to treat Rice with disdain? It's very simple: It doesn't matter what she says anymore.
"Comments that in the past would have set everybody abuzz, are not making much waves today," the source said. He attributed this both to the waning days of George W. Bush's administration, and a growing realization that the chances of finalizing any "shelf agreement" with the Palestinians by the end of 2008 are slim, largely because of the political instability in Israel.

The source said that if the government could not make a decision on the cease-fire agreement in the Gaza Strip because of political considerations, as Defense Minister Ehud Barak has charged, then even less so would it be able to make the even more complicated decision about signing a final-status agreement with the Palestinians.

The source said that Rice's particularly stern comments about the construction in the settlements and east Jerusalem were an indication of frustration that after 21 visits to the region as secretary of state, she was facing the prospect of leaving office in January without an agreement here.
It's been clear for months that this government is incapable of making any major decisions. But it took Morris Talansky to make everyone else realize it. In fact, Olmert's 'spokesman' was openly critical of Rice yesterday.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev said Israel drew a clear distinction between building in Jerusalem, and building in the West Bank.

"It is clear that the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem will remain part of Israel," he said. "It is not realistic that we freeze the lives of people in Jerusalem."
It's not 'realistic' to freeze the lives of people in Judea and Samaria either. There are hundreds of people who are either living like hillbillies in mobile homes or who are paying higher rents in the cities because the government has refused to build in Judea and Samaria. Until Shas' recent successes at forcing the government to build in the areas surrounding Jerusalem, the Olmert-Barak-Livni-Yishai government was not even building in the areas that it claims it 'plans to keep,' let alone in areas outside the 'security fence.' So it's easy to understand why Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip (yes, they still have Gaza in the name), was much more critical of the government than of Rice.
It was "impertinent and insolent" on her part to scold Israel for providing housing for its citizens in the heart of the capital, Dayan said.

"But most of the blame lies with the government of Olmert and Tzipi Livni, who have treated the way that Israel has been spat at in the face as if it were rain drops.

"When the Olmert-Livni government began, it prided itself on an understanding with the US president over the future of the settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria. It's a sign of this government's failure that within two years it has managed to lose international support even over [Jerusalem neighborhoods such as] Gilo, Ramot and Pisgat Ze'ev," Dayan said.

It should have been clear to Olmert and to Livni that a construction freeze in Judea and Samaria would only move the diplomatic struggle into Jerusalem, he said.

Now the construction of a porch in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Eshkol has become a matter of urgent debate in the United Nations, Dayan said.
For the record, Ramat Eshkol is even closer to the center of Jerusalem than Ramat Shlomo is, and is a much older neighborhood. It was built in the immediate aftermath of the Six Day War. Ramat Shlomo was built between 1993-96.

But what's perhaps most disgraceful about Rice's criticism can be summed up in a conversation Mrs. Carl and I had as we drove past Ramat Shlomo on Sunday. There is an Arab village called Shuafat next to Ramat Shlomo. The village, unlike the 'refugee camp' by the same name, is quite wealthy. Over the past twelve years or so, since Jews started to populate Ramat Shlomo, the village of Shuafat has added many luxury homes - probably without building permits - which have moved closer and closer to the village's border with the Jewish neighborhood. Yet during all that time, no one has objected that the Arab housing 'predetermines the outcome' of negotiations, 'changes the status' of Jerusalem, 'changes the status quo' or 'violates road map obligations.' It's only the Jews who can't build, can't live in their own capital city and who are the 'obstacle to peace.'

Here's hoping that Condi Rice never returns to this country. We won't miss her.


At 11:46 AM, Blogger Mother Effingby said...

If Israel would have told Jimmy Carter to shove it and beat it, and would never have entered into the farce of Peace agreements, would anyone now care whether Israel builds wherever Israel is? This whole mess started with the meddlesome US. Shame on America.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Thud said...

Rice has been a disaster from the begining...expect her to speak out against Israel after her term ends.

At 6:27 PM, Blogger J. Lichty said...

If Israel would have told Jimmy Carter to shove it and beat it, and would never have entered into the farce of Peace agreements, would anyone now care whether Israel builds wherever Israel is?

That is not true - Sadat and Begin basically had the deal worked out and just wanted the US to bankroll it so they appealed to Carter's ego and he became the face of the camp david disaster.

Carl - you have not heard the last of Condi - she will go out with an anti-Israel bang that would make James Baker III blush. She has still much mischeif to wrought, and now that she is losing face, expect it to get much worse until November.

At 10:22 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

If you're looking for photos of undocumented Arab building, Batya's the one to check out.

At 10:41 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I second your sentiment, Carl. The world has never had a problem with Arabs in Jerusalem. Only with Jews and this despite the fact Jerusalem is the oldest Jewish city in the world. Earlier this year, Ehud Olmert breezily talked of redividing Jerusalem. Its now for all practical intents and purposes a dead letter. Where are you going to put all the Jews who live on the other side of the city? That's exactly why all this talk of stopping building in Ramat Shlomo and Ramat Eshkol will go nowhere. The only people who want to redivide the city are those ignorant of its physical and human geography. May it be forevermore the united capital of Israel!

At 4:56 AM, Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

This is some of the only good news I've seen on the Israel front in a long time. May we hope next for an IDF operation that will stop the rockets from Gaza?

Carl, I'd appreciate some help on your archives. Can you point me to the link to a post you had (maybe more than one) about this place where the Israelis can prove that they paid all this money to a "Palestinian" for some property and yet the whole thing is still being held up in the Israeli courts because of phony claims that the Israelis have no right to the property?

I'm engaged in a blog discussion on my own personal blog in which somebody (an American paleoconservative--perhaps you're familiar with that approach) trots out the usual stuff about "Likud policies" of "confiscating Palestinian land." I wanted to use that link to point out how hard it apparently is for Israelis even to _buy_ "Palestinian land" much less to confiscate it.

At 5:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You and I first discussed Condi "F^%@ the Jews" Rice a year or so ago. To my shame and embarrassment, my suspicions about her have been proven true.

For many years, it was said that George W. Bush was the best friend Israel could have. And now?

Unless and until he repudiates Rice's remarks, we can expect more.

And Condi? James "F&*# the Jews" Baker has a big smile across his face (as does the Austrian corporal, Himmler, Heydrich and Arafart), so you can remove the kneepads.


At 7:53 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


You are probably referring to Shalom House in Hebron. You might also want to point him to the story of Muhammad Abu al-Hawa, who was murdered for selling land to Jews in Jerusalem.

At 10:22 PM, Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

Thanks, Carl. I appreciate the links.

I find it...upsetting when people write in this rather ignorant way implying that any time some houses are built for Jews in something the media calls a "settlement" that this means that land is being "confiscated" from "Palestinians," as if every house built in a Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem means some Arab family thrown out on the street and their land seized. It's just so crazy that people would think this, yet to hear some write, "settlement expansion" and "confiscation of Palestinians' land" are synonymous. In my heart I sometimes worry that this is because anyone who talks that way really believes that _all_ of the land beyond the Holy Green Line is sacred unto Arabs and that to the extent that it isn't Judenrein the land must be by definition "confiscated." But I try not to think this of people that I have some positive knowledge of otherwise. But it's hard to read one's interlocutors and colleagues lift their rhetoric directly from, oh, the Guardian or something.

To my mind being pro-Israeli and indeed quite hawkish on the so-called "settlements in the West Bank" is a simple matter of information plus a just and objective mind. Obviously, not everyone in the world agrees with me. :-)


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