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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Did Olmert agree to a building suspension in Jerusalem?

Someone needs to tell the Israeli government that the US is no longer on our side.

On Tuesday, the government announced plans to build 307 housing units in Har Homa. Har Homa is located within the Jerusalem city limits; in fact it is closer to the city center than Gilo or some parts of Talpiyot (both suburbs of Jerusalem that are within the city limits). The announcement caused criticism from 'Palestinian negotiator' Saeb Erekat (among others) who claimed that Israel was violating the 'understandings' reached at Annapolis (someone had better call Yisrael Beiteinu chief honcho Avigdor Lieberman because he told the JPost over the weekend that there were no 'understandings' reached at Annapolis).
"If the [Har Homa] plan is implemented," said Erekat, "it will ruin all the efforts to reach meaningful negotiations to end the Israeli occupation," Army Radio reported.
NO Israeli government has EVER agreed to suspend building in Jerusalem (although there have been rumors that suspensions would be agreed to in the past, none of them ever came to pass). So if Olmert did agree to it, this would be a first.

Yesterday, the government came under attack by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice:
Israeli plans to build more than 300 new homes in the disputed east Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa won't help efforts to build confidence with the Palestinians under the revived Middle East peace process, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Friday.

"We're in a time when the goal is to build maximum confidence between the parties and this doesn't help to build confidence," Rice told reporters after a meeting with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on the sidelines of a NATO meeting.
I guess Feigele didn't convince Rice not to say anything, did she?

This evening, the government - through Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Boim - is trying to convince everyone that we can build whatever we want in Jerusalem and that the government has not agreed to suspend building in its own capitol:
Nothing can prevent the new construction in Har Homa since it is within the municipal borders of the capital, Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Boim said Saturday. Boim was responding to criticism from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat of Israel's plans to build 307 new housing units in the east Jerusalem neighborhood.

"Rice must be commended for her part in setting the peace process in motion, however, halting construction in Jerusalem cannot be brought up at every possible opportunity. The Har Homa neighborhood is within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem to which Israeli law applies, and therefore, there is no obstacle to building there," Army Radio quoted Boim as saying.
But is that really true? Look at what Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said yesterday:
On Tuesday, Israel announced plans to build more than 300 new homes in Har Homa.

Government spokesman Mark Regev said Israel has explained to the US that the building tenders were the legacy of past governments.

"In this current decision to build, neither the Prime Minister's Office nor the Defense Ministry was involved in the decision-making process," Regev said. "We're talking about Jerusalem, Israel's capital, and Israeli law applies, and this was done through the regular, routine procedures."
All of which leads to the real question: Can the government decide tomorrow morning to build houses in Neve Yaakov or Pisgat Zev or - for those of you who know the city let's bring it a bit closer to the center - Ramat Eshkol? Is Ze'ev Boim lying fudging the truth?

It sounds to me like the government has agreed they won't build any more housing in the Jerusalem neighborhoods that have been built since 1967. We're not even talking about giving the neighborhoods populated by Arabs to the 'Palestinians' - which the government was slammed for suggesting before Annapolis. We're talking about building in Jewish neighborhoods that have been built since 1967. That would include Ramat Eshkol, Sanhedria Murchevet, French Hill, Neve Yaakov, Pisgat Zev, all of the Ramot's, Gilo, East Talpiyot and yes, Har Homa (and please forgive me if I left your neighborhood out). That implies that the government has put all of those neighborhoods on the table (at least) for possible evacuation expulsion of their Jewish residents.

If the government has agreed to suspend building in all those areas, it needs to come clean and tell people that. And then the people need to throw the government out!


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